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gi_grrl
07-12-2007, 02:08 AM
Hi all,

My Sensei usually only teaches one of three classes a week. The remaining classes are taught by our three highest ranking students. Usually, I would teach one class a week and have been doing so for the last two years (for three years before that I taught more irregularly). Lately, I've been teaching nearly one in every two classes, sometimes one in three. I enjoy teaching, but I find it hard staying motivated when I'm not getting to train. And while training is challenging, I find that teaching is more so - the students are depending on me, I need to plan the classes, and stay fully focussed while I'm there. It can be quite draining after already putting in a full day's work. Some days, I really struggle to get to the dojo, knowing that I'll most likely have to teach.

Does anyone have any strategies to streamline the teaching process and stay motivated? What is it that keeps you teaching??

Cheers, gi_grrl.

senshincenter
07-12-2007, 03:17 AM
One thing I do in regards to training and teaching is that I look to train just like everyone else. I demonstrate the technique, then get a partner and start training just as any other person in class would. In short, teaching does not have to mean "not training" if you do not let it or want it to. I think that is the first place to start - a change of perspective.

After that, you can look to things that make this more doable where you are. Some of the things we do in our dojo are: we train in only one to three techniques per class; we carry a single theme/principle for a week or more; we rotate two to four times per class on the same technique; we have advanced training hours; we offer training several times a day, daily. All of these things work to limit the downside of not being 100% instructor 100% of the time (i.e. looking over everyone's shoulder all of the time) - which isn't necessarily all good either (my opinion).

Another change of perspective that you can apply, if you are not already doing so, is to look to work on techniques you have questions about and/or problems with - vs. picking techniques you feel comfortable with and/or that are fun to do, etc.

Additionally, if the learning curve is very low, due to too many beginners on the mat, you can always look to delve deeper into any given basic - finding the ocean of information within the "simplest" of fundamentals. These last two suggestions might help with the sense that teaching means not learning - which is not true for more reasons than just "you learn a lot when you have to teach something."

fwiw,
dmv

Dazzler
07-12-2007, 06:00 AM
Hi all,

My Sensei usually only teaches one of three classes a week. The remaining classes are taught by our three highest ranking students. Usually, I would teach one class a week and have been doing so for the last two years (for three years before that I taught more irregularly). Lately, I've been teaching nearly one in every two classes, sometimes one in three. I enjoy teaching, but I find it hard staying motivated when I'm not getting to train. And while training is challenging, I find that teaching is more so - the students are depending on me, I need to plan the classes, and stay fully focussed while I'm there. It can be quite draining after already putting in a full day's work. Some days, I really struggle to get to the dojo, knowing that I'll most likely have to teach.

Does anyone have any strategies to streamline the teaching process and stay motivated? What is it that keeps you teaching??

Cheers, gi_grrl.

Hi Fiona

Quite a few things I can relate to there, although without knowing your set up its maybe not so easy to offer advice thats directly relevant.

My own Sensei currently teaches just 1 regular class and I am responsible for 2 so some common ground there.

Point 1 is keep training. You are doing this anyway David above joins in the class - I prefer not to do this as I prefer to follow up the 1 to many demonstration with 1 to 1 teaching as the class practices.

So I handle this by either rotating instruction with a friend who is same grade as me or allowing other instructors who come to my more senior class to take a portion of it or even the whole class sometimes. We all try to work together while each has their own perspective.

Point 2 - Do you have a syllabus? I tend to rely more on the syllabus when I've had one of those draining days and stretch the class and my teaching more when I've had a better opportunity to prepare.

Point 3. - We have fairly regular gradings for lower grades. This helps in that when a grading is coming up they are keen to do 'just syllabus' and relieve the pressure on you to be 'inventive'.

Post grading the pressure to be exactly right on every detail is lifted so at these stages I feel enabled to try things that are interesting
but perhaps not so tucked inside my comfort zone.

Point 4. Some days you'll most likely have to teach? Agree a schedule in advance. I find it frustrating to work hard to prepare a class that turns out to be not needed. It can't be avoided sometimes eg. you prepare a class for seniors and juniors turn up ..but you should at least know beforehand if you have to teach or not.

Point 5 - dont be too hard on yourself. I've delivered classes with loads of special bits in...and sometimes the atmosphere just hasn't clicked. Other times I've taught absolute basics...and been taught basics ...and its gone down a storm.

What keeps me teaching?

I enjoy it, I enjoy what it does for me in terms of confidence, technically stretching me, as the students progress and grow I'm forced to do the same to continue to deliver something interesting.

I enjoy seeing what it does for the students, seeing characters emerge from timid beginners, seeing aggressive or strong students develop a sensitivity to other students.

I love the group dynamic of our dojo and am really proud of its achievements and growth.

Hope this helps.

Regards

D

SeiserL
07-12-2007, 07:51 AM
IMHO, (add salt because I don't teach) the best way to stay motivated is to not take yourself too seriously, enjoy the experience (have fun) in the moment, see where the experience fits into a larger goal, and always keep your own training up (as a part of the class you teach or otherwise).

odudog
07-12-2007, 11:04 AM
Teaching is also part of training. I'm sure you have already been surprised by the amount of detail that you have to explain or the types of questions that are asked of you about the techniques. So even if you don't actually practice the techniques that day physically, you did practice them mentally which is half the battle. Also keep it fun, like Mr. Seiser said. I make up mottos or phrases that help my fellow students learn the Japanese words, techniques, concepts, etc.. but most of them are just for me. Just recently I was working with one of my instructors and he kept hearing me mumble "stratch my ass". I had no idea that I was doing this and he asked me why. When I explained it to him he had huge laugh.

George S. Ledyard
07-13-2007, 01:23 PM
And while training is challenging, I find that teaching is more so - the students are depending on me, I need to plan the classes, and stay fully focussed while I'm there. It can be quite draining after already putting in a full day's work. Some days, I really struggle to get to the dojo, knowing that I'll most likely have to teach.

Interestingly, I think the issue is not "teaching" per se but the way you have contrasted "teaching" and "training". For instance, "the students are depending on me". Well, when you are training, every partner you have is depending on you. I know that often folks don't think of it that way, but it is true.

"...the need to stay fully focused while I'm there." It shouldn't matter one iota whether you are teaching or just training. If your training is conducted properly, you should be fully focused every second you are training.

Many folks treat their training as recreational. This contrasts with other situations in which what they do is more "serious". For instance taking ukemi from the teacher, taking a rank test, doing a public demo or teaching classes to others.

There really shouldn't be a disconnect between what you do on the mat in class and what happens in any other aspect of your training. If folks trained in every class the way they treat what they do on a Dan test, they would progress at a far greater pace.

If you feel that having to be "fully focused" while your teaching makes you more tired than regular training, you aren't focusing properly in your training. Training is about being fully focused.

heathererandolph
07-13-2007, 01:41 PM
To give yourself something to look forward to, you could try adding some things to challenge yourself. For example, do a little demo at the start or finish of class, showcasing what you will or did teach be the class and related techniques. That will challenge you to go from one technique to the other, quickly and with precision, it will improve your Aikido and be entertaining for the students.

For example, if you are teaching techniques from Yokomen, then show a bunch of techniques from Yokomen attack.

You could enjoy some energetic practice with your students especially if there is an uneven number. You could call more line or group techniques and participate with the students.

Mark Uttech
07-13-2007, 06:17 PM
I think it is pretty simple reality that teaching is not for everyone. Indeed, if it's a problem, or you find it tiring, it is ok to refuse to be a teacher and just be a student. The main teacher at any dojo should not hold it against you. After all, the main teacher at any dojo has the real responsibility, and has to carry the ball. If you think it is important that you be a teacher, but teaching bothers you, that is just your ego. If you think the students are dependent on you, again, that is your ego. Good luck.

In gassho,

Mark

gi_grrl
07-14-2007, 06:09 AM
Thanks to all of you for your responses. So many things to try, but I think the comment I need to take most on board is David's advice to "change my perspective", ie. stop thinking of teaching as an onerous task but more as a fun way of developing my own aikido as well as that of my students.

Daren - I like all of your points, but particularly 1 and 5. They have oft been mantra of mine with respect to training, so of course they should apply to teaching too. Lynn says almost the same thing, but mentions long-term goals. I find myself wondering what is my long-term goal in aikido? I'm not really sure - I do it because I love it. I loved it from the day I first walked onto the mats. Is there more than that? Will I learn to love teaching? Does this mean that the honeymoon is over and I need to develop a deeper relationship with aikido??

George, I do think of my training as recreational. I do it for fun. I don't always focus fully after working all day... but I get there and I do my best, I leave with a smile on my face, and sometimes I think "wow, look how far I've come". I actually think that learning to not focus fully has been part of my aikido path - to relax and just move, to not look too directly but to know what is around me, to respond without thinking about I should do... Hmmm, thinking about aikido is pretty good motivation, actually :) .

Erik Calderon
07-24-2007, 09:51 AM
Going to seminars as often as possible is one great way to stay motiviated.

There are many wonderful high ranking shihans giving seminars all year round in different cities.

http://www.shinkikan.com

DonMagee
07-24-2007, 12:29 PM
I don't teach martial arts, however I am a teacher. I teach the unix/linux classes at my college. I find the pure love of what I teach to keep me going. In between sessions I really miss teaching. I think that if I didn't love teaching, I simply would stop teaching and not bother with it.

Budd
07-24-2007, 12:40 PM
I think, as others have alluded, one of the secrets to being a really good teacher is to never stop being a student.

Cady Goldfield
08-04-2007, 07:10 AM
Budd wins a cee-gar! :)

Rocky Izumi
08-05-2007, 11:59 PM
I look at teaching as a chance to experiment and do research. In that way, it becomes a fundamental part of my training. All it requires is a bunch of students who won't give you any slack and will slap you around when you screw up your technique. Ask them to give you more resistance and to hit you if they have a chance. A punch in the nose is a good motivator. But start slow and easy. Too many punches in the nose right away can be de-motivating.

Rock

Matthew White
08-13-2007, 11:01 PM
I think it is pretty simple reality that teaching is not for everyone. Indeed, if it's a problem, or you find it tiring, it is ok to refuse to be a teacher and just be a student. The main teacher at any dojo should not hold it against you. After all, the main teacher at any dojo has the real responsibility, and has to carry the ball. If you think it is important that you be a teacher, but teaching bothers you, that is just your ego. If you think the students are dependent on you, again, that is your ego. Good luck.

In gassho,

Mark

I'm gonna have to disagree with Mark. It is your responsibility to teach. There is a (perhaps unspoken) agreement when you join a dojo, your seniors will teach you. You will learn from them. When you become senior, you pass that knowledge along to your juniors. As you progress (gain a new rank) you gain responsibilities.

Martial arts should not be a "good 'ol boys" club where the people at the top get all the perks and the people at the bottom have to do all the work; leave that to the mafia and corporate america... Everytime you rank-up, you are saying "I agree to take on the responsibility of helping my juniors, peers, and seniors. The juniors are helped by offering instruction, the peers by offering productive challenges ("dilemma rich atmosphere" - Aaron Clark-Sensei), and the instructors by doing the previous two while simultaneously improving in your own practice."

At some point in our society we created this ideological demarkation line: you are a student [U]or[U] you are a teacher. That's the same as saying, once you are a teacher, you know everything and stop learning. That just makes no sense. A teacher is a student who doesn't have their teacher conveniently handy, so they must become their own teacher for 95%+ of the time. My current teacher is 5th Dan. His two teachers are in different time zones and he sees them just a few days out of the year. He has to progress by monitoring his own practice and use his students as the catalyst for his learning.

My previous teacher was 2nd Dan. If he was going to stop learning just because he was now the "teacher" I would have great pity for him. Now that I'm 2nd Dan I realize how little knowledge that really entails. Yet, I have the responsibility, when I am the senior person on the mat, to instruct the class. It's not something I'm comfortable with, but the dojo should not be a comfortable place. It should be a place that puts you out of your comfort zone and into a place where you may be challenged to better yourself. At a certain point, becoming technically efficient at physical conflict takes a back-seat to learning how we absorb those abilities, how we pass them on to others, and why we even bother. It's at that point that teachers learn and students are taught.

To get back on the subject of teaching or not teaching, IMHO, it's poor payment to the people who taught you to say "I will take, but I will not give".

Okay, I've stood on the pedestal long enough. My legs are tired now.

donplummer
08-14-2007, 02:33 AM
find ways to add training to your teaching? yes?

Chuck Clark
08-14-2007, 10:41 AM
Teaching and training are not separate. An old saying goes.. "Half of learning is teaching."

Some people think teaching is telling people about principle and technique and giving them instructions in how to train then watching and critiquing. That is a small part of teaching. The largest part of teaching is leading/teaching by example, close example, touching everyone as much as possible so they can feel the lesson. There are instructors and there are teachers... different levels of experience and subject matter also. Both should do their best to get hands on connection with everyone, each time being appropriate to the level of skill of the junior.

It is a hard lesson for new instructors to learn how to continue training while leading and instructing others. It can not be done from behind a podium with slideshows and visual aids on a screen. Transmission from one that HAS IT to one who WANTS IT through hands on connection as much as possible.

If this is happening, I can't understand how anyone that really loves budo can lose motivation to continue and want more...

Gambatte!

Rocky Izumi
08-14-2007, 11:00 AM
Keep in mind one saying to stay motivated in teaching:

"Do as I do, not as I say."

Rock

Chuck Clark
08-14-2007, 11:07 AM
Heh Rocky, How're you doing? Is that an old location listed for you or are you back in Regina for awhile? It's good to see you posting again.

Best Regards,

Rocky Izumi
08-14-2007, 03:15 PM
In Regina, SK, Canada. Working on my DVD series. Got first one made and am distributing. Reviews on Aikiweb. Second one should be out in January, maybe even third one. Second on Tai Sabaki and third one on 90 degree principle.

Rock

Chuck Clark
08-14-2007, 03:29 PM
Sounds great! I'll take a look for sure. Do you miss that island life?

I have fond memories of Regina and hangin out with my RCMP buddies. That was a long time ago though in the early seventies.

Aaron is living near Monroe, WA now working at UW and training with Phil Relnick. I'm moving up there as soon as I can get things together and we're gonna build a dojo on Aaron's property. Maybe you can swing down and visit when we get the dojo done.

Rocky Izumi
08-15-2007, 01:11 AM
It is already getting cold here at night. Fall is already upon us and I am not ready for the cold yet. I still haven't warmed up from Spring. The only good thing is that I have the clothes to suit the weather.

My son is now in Vancouver, BC. He has given up on Kendo and is now studying Wu Shu with the idea of working in the stunt field. He doesn't think that he will ever be able to make more than Sandan or Yondan in Kendo so he is working on something that is more suited to his body type. I think he has the talent and I have the connections so it might work out for him in stunt work. We will see. I will give you a call when I am out to see my son, Koichiro and we can have a bit of workout with your son.

Trying to keep this conversation in the staying motivated area. I guess the lesson from my son is that sometimes, if you find that you are not as motivated as you probably should be, you need to switch styles or even just Ryu or just your Shihan. It isn't always your fault if you lose motivation. Sometimes it might be your inner self telling you that you need to do something else. It might just mean that you need a new teacher.

Rock

Erik Calderon
09-05-2007, 02:49 AM
In Albuquerqui I visited a dojo, Albuquerqui Aikikai. Had a great time training there and it really got me even more excited about coming back to Houston and teaching.

Peter Goldsbury
09-05-2007, 06:53 AM
In Regina, SK, Canada. Working on my DVD series. Got first one made and am distributing. Reviews on Aikiweb. Second one should be out in January, maybe even third one. Second on Tai Sabaki and third one on 90 degree principle.

Rock

Hello Rocky,

Hisashiburi desu!!

You are making a DVD series?? On aikido?? Wow!! Can I review them? Severely?

I would not have the gall to make a DVD series on aikido. There is so much that I do not know. Not that I am attacking you for it, however. Yamaguchi Seigo Sensei once made a video and forever complained about it afterwards. I can see why. But I have seen the instructional series made by the present Doshu, and other videos / DVDs made by other shihans like Yamada Yoshimitsu and M Saotome. The present Doshu's videos are almost exactly like his demonstrations. I saw the last one (at Iwama in April on Youtube) and it was typical Moriteru Doshu. Very professional. Are you making similar videos?

I share your views on teaching.

As for motivation, I went to my doctor earlier today and received a heavy dose of acupuncture, moxibustion and massage. He said, "You are very good for your age, but this is because you regularly train in aikido and do ukemi etc. But you are getting old and becoming stiff. You should remember that you have to train harder, to compensate, but in your own way. But you should never stop training. If you do, you will lose the zest for living."

Very best wishes and give my yoroshiku to Kawahara Shihan.

Peter Goldsbury

raul rodrigo
09-05-2007, 09:57 AM
Hello Rocky,
Yamaguchi Seigo Sensei once made a video and forever complained about it afterwards. I can see why

I've seen the video you're referring to. If you don't mind my asking, what exactly were Yamaguchi's complaints about the video?

best,

R

Peter Goldsbury
09-05-2007, 10:08 AM
I've seen the video you're referring to. If you don't mind my asking, what exactly were Yamaguchi's complaints about the video?

best,

R

He thought it was rather amateurish and wanted to make a better one. But, almost in the same breath, he added that he felt that his aikido changed all the time and to capture it on video was the problem: it was a capture and so removed the essential flexibility and willingness to destroy the form. The 'destruction' is the HA of SHU-HA-RI.

PAG

George S. Ledyard
09-05-2007, 11:06 AM
He thought it was rather amateurish and wanted to make a better one. But, almost in the same breath, he added that he felt that his aikido changed all the time and to capture it on video was the problem: it was a capture and so removed the essential flexibility and willingness to destroy the form. The 'destruction' is the HA of SHU-HA-RI.

PAG

Whereas I find videos to be a tremendous training tool, including those few I have of Yamaguchi Sensei, I do understand this point of view. Back in the days before video, Saotome Sensei created his kumitachi which students have to perform on their yudansha tests. In those days the forms morphed constantly as Sensei seldom taught anything exactly the same way twice.

Once the sword video came out, then it became like the tablets handed down to Moses. People stop thinking about whether something actually works, whether they can make it make sense to them, and start slavishly imitating the form on the video.

You see this a lot. There are folks out there who have learned an amazing number of kata and their variations. yet they have no idea about the principles behind the forms. They don't use those forms as a tool for investigating the art, they are just another ticket punched on the upward ladder towards uber-Dan-dom.

But, in the end, I think teachers have to just let go of the issue that their stuff is changing all the time and put it out there. Gleason Sensei finally got his sword video done and was telling me that it felt a bit uncomfortable because his stuff had changed since then. But the fact is that that video is so far ahead of what most folks are doing, that it would be decades before they would need to worry about the greater depth he has gone to.

I still look at videos of Ikeda Sensei done back in the 80's... His stuff today is so much more sophisticated that it's not like even the same person, yet they are quite useful.

If it's good today, it will still be good ten years from now, even if you've changed completely over that time. Folks want or need to pass through those earlier stages. Besides, if you keep on getting better and better, people will keep buying your videos... not like some I bought twenty years ago and the teacher hasn't changed one iota since then. One video told the whole story in their cases.

Rocky Izumi
09-05-2007, 08:02 PM
Hello Rocky,

Hisashiburi desu!!

You are making a DVD series?? On aikido?? Wow!! Can I review them? Severely?

I would not have the gall to make a DVD series on aikido. There is so much that I do not know. Not that I am attacking you for it, however. Yamaguchi Seigo Sensei once made a video and forever complained about it afterwards. I can see why. But I have seen the instructional series made by the present Doshu, and other videos / DVDs made by other shihans like Yamada Yoshimitsu and M Saotome. The present Doshu's videos are almost exactly like his demonstrations. I saw the last one (at Iwama in April on Youtube) and it was typical Moriteru Doshu. Very professional. Are you making similar videos?

I share your views on teaching.

As for motivation, I went to my doctor earlier today and received a heavy dose of acupuncture, moxibustion and massage. He said, "You are very good for your age, but this is because you regularly train in aikido and do ukemi etc. But you are getting old and becoming stiff. You should remember that you have to train harder, to compensate, but in your own way. But you should never stop training. If you do, you will lose the zest for living."

Very best wishes and give my yoroshiku to Kawahara Shihan.

Peter Goldsbury

Hi Peter,

Guess I haven't seen you since either Hong Kong or Japan, I can't remember which. I will certainly give your regards to Kawahara Shihan.

I would be most grateful if you would review the DVD, and severly. The more severely you review it, the more I will learn (a note for this thread) :D .

Yes, I had to do a lot of soul-searching before embarking on this one. I too am very worried about the formalizing of anything because of the key principle of growth in Aikido means that things must keep changing. I know that what I say now will change next year as I learn more. It will change as I grow older and change what I can do.

I spent a long time talking to Kawahara Shihan about this when he stayed with me for a couple weeks in the Caribbean. I only decided to do it with his encouragement and admonition that I had better get it done quickly before I become too old to do it any more. The major impetus for doing this is that I cannot visit all my students every year, especially those in the Caribbean and Asia as neither I nor they have those types of funds. Yet, I have a responsibility to continue training them.

Another key impetus for doing this is that many I have lead still do not seem to understand many of the things I tried to impart to them. From teaching university, both you and I should know that we need to repeat lessons many times for it to get through to our pupils. These DVDs give me that chance.

The last major impetus (and there are many other minor ones) was for my own training and research. As many have said on this website, teaching and trying to clarify is often one of the best training tools one can have. I have learned a lot in making these DVDs and I have clarified many things in my own mind. It was, in part, a training exercise for me (another bow to this thread) :D.

While I agree that putting something down for posterity can be embarrassing (as you learn better), frustrating (since people think it is the right way and the only way), disrespectful (since it may seem as if you are saying that you know better than everyone else), stupid (because you are giving away your secrets), and expensive (in time and money). But, I was told to let go my ego and think about my students by my conscience and others (more or less). So I look stupid and lose my Aikido technical advantage, if it helps my students, then so be it. That is my responsibility. In this age where people like me are constantly on the move from one place to another, I have to take advantage of all technological advances to be able to give back what I should to Aikido.

There is another reason, I guess, that I am doing what I have started. I have had more than one Shihan tell me, before they died or retired, that they wish they had talked more to their students and that they wish they had left something more to get their students on the right track. I decided a while back, that I do not want to have those types of regrets. I have the ability and the resources to do these DVDs so I guess I had to do them. I am still highly involved in the production business though it often happens to be in business administration instruction.

In order to reduce the amount of regret I would have for putting something down in perpetuity, I have decided to focus on the principles in Aikido, rather than on techniques. There are a thousand different ways to do any technique, all of which may be valid. Rather than focusing on how to do a technique, I have tried to preserve the idea that the techniques in Aikido are not Aikido but simply demonstrations of the principles which, when combined, is Aikido. So I am trying to help my students understand what some of the principles are, their importance, their variations, some exercises for practicing those principles, and how they are applied in the Aikido techniques.

Unfortunately, I have only been able to produce one so far but am expecting to put another one out in the new year on Tai Sabaki. I am simply waiting to get some time to shoot this next one.

I am also waiting for more feedback on the last DVD so I would be greatly honoured if you would take the time to review it. I am more interested in criticisms than in plaudits so that I can improve the next one. It would also honour me if you would put the review up on the review site so that the other people involved in the production could see the feedback. And, finally, more publicity, even negative publicity is highly desired for increasing sales. I have to use the proceeds from the first DVD to fund the second one so the more sales I get, the sooner I can produce the next one.

P.S. My cardiologist told me that if I stop heavy exercise for more than a month, I will die. Apparently, my body has acclimated to a daily training regimen so that if I stop too long, my blood pressure and sugar levels rise to levels that are deadly. I have a broken hand from a bicycle accident but I still can't stop. I want to slow down, but now that I am running downhill, I can't stop :eek: .

Best,
Rock

dps
09-05-2007, 08:33 PM
There are a thousand different ways to do any technique, all of which may be valid. Rather than focusing on how to do a technique, I have tried to preserve the idea that the techniques in Aikido are not Aikido but simply demonstrations of the principles which, when combined, is Aikido.

Very well said. Thank you.
David