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Stefan Stenudd
05-08-2008, 04:32 AM
I am convinced that you learn a lot by teaching. Probably, after some time of training you need to teach in order to learn from that perspective.

When teaching, you examine the techniques more thoroughly - and not just how they work for you, but for anyone. Also, you get the habit of focusing on the collective learning experience, which is the essence of training in a dojo.

In Japan it is rare, not to say odd, with a teacher below 4 dan, but I would say that some teaching experience starts to be needed at around shodan level. That might be tricky in a dojo with more advanced practitioners than there are classes in the week, but then some kind of rotation schedule might be the solution.
It's not necessary to teach very often, but to try it now and then.

Of course, there is a kind of teaching situation in practicing with a partner - hopefully a mutual exchange of it. Still, heading a class is another thing, and every advanced aikido student should get the chance of experiencing it.

Just my 2 cents.

Mark Uttech
05-08-2008, 09:12 AM
Opportunities arise naturally in just about every dojo, for senior students to get some teaching experience.

In gassho,

Mark

John Matsushima
05-08-2008, 11:11 AM
I completely disagree with this. Any teacher in any field should be a subject matter expert, or a master. I think this is one reason why in Japan, most teachers are higher in rank. In Japan, the term "sensei" refers to someone who is a professional in their field, such as a doctor, or lawyer.

If you are learning by teaching, then that means that you don't really know what you are doing; then what exactly are you teaching? Concerning teaching techniques, I don't think one learns those just by experience, it takes training and/or studying.

One should learn by learning. And then you teach.

Bob Blackburn
05-08-2008, 11:23 AM
I don't think you have to be an expert on the whole art to start teaching. I agree you learn a lot by teaching lower ranks then yourself even if it is informally. This is the Sempai/Kohai relationship. Just don't be afraid to admit something is beyond your knowledge and seek the answer for yourself and your kohai.

Marie Noelle Fequiere
05-08-2008, 12:45 PM
Both my former Karate instructor and my Aikido instructor are for Senpais teaching Kohais. Of course, Sensei will ask Senpai to teach something that they do well, and a lot of martial artists agree that it helps one perfect their technique. By teaching, you see the beginner's mistakes, wich makes you more careful about your own techniques. and it forces an advanced student to make a careful review of a basic technique, wich can never hurt. It also gives a shy student some self confidence. I once saw Sensei give a brown belt some hard time because of a faulty technique. Senpai looked a bit shaken. Then, Sensei asked him to teach me something. Now, I could see Senpai's face lighten up, as he guided me through my own training. And, of course, after letting Senpai spend some time with a white belt, Sensei will ask Kohai to show what he has learned from Senpai. So Senpai needs to make sure that he teaches the best that he can.
So, more refined techniques, more self confidence, I think that there is a lot to learn through teaching.

Chuck Clark
05-08-2008, 02:22 PM
I have been both learning and teaching for a long time now. I started out teaching at first because my teacher moved and I was the senior student. That continued at several different locations over the years that I was the senior student. Fortunately, my teachers had started me on the path learning how to learn from practicing and, in time, to become my own teacher. I have heard sayings that "half of learning is teaching"... I confess I don't know the origin of that. I do know that after over 55 years of practice now, I am learning many lessons from my students and my practice is still improving. The reason I teach now is mostly that I feel that it is an obligation I will always have to my teachers and their teachers to do my best to pass on what they gave me. We must have both the courage and humility to do our best at the time while learning from our mistakes. My practice/teaching is like an experiment in a laboratory/dojo where we are always expanding our experience and knowledge by being willing to stay on the outer edge of our abilities and knowledge and learn from our experiences. What I teach is basic fundamentals and tools and how to practice with these tools so that we all become investigators that share with each other in learning. My responsibility is to be an example, and hopefully, an inspiration to my juniors, of someone that is trying to do their best each instant while being aware of and responsible for the results.

Sorry for the rant, but I think I understand John M.'s post and really disagree with it. We all learn things by doing it wrong, paying attention, and trying to do it better. Teachers especially.

Allen Beebe
05-08-2008, 03:30 PM
I agree with you Chuck. In my experience as a Professional Educator (student/teacher), Buddhist Priest (student/teacher), and Budo (student/teacher) being in the "teacher role" is an incredibly humbling and potentially powerful learning experience.

In many professions there are certain minimum standards required before one hangs up their "shingle" (Educators, Attorneys, Health Professionals), however, all of these careers require continuing education coursework implying that there is more to be learned.

In my opinion and experience, those that are not reflective and make no effort to continuously learn make poor teachers, betrayed if only by the fact of the poor example they provide.

eyrie
05-08-2008, 06:02 PM
Children are sometimes the best teachers of how to be a good (better) parent.... yet they don't "teach" in the sense of the word. And yet some parents think they already know it all.... just like some 5 year olds ALREADY know it all... ;)

As my jujitsu teacher once said to me... you can always learn something from someone else... it doesn't matter if they're a black belt, white belt or no belt.

Even the worst personal examples can serve to teach you something.... the question is what lessons did you come away with from the experience?

aikidoc
05-08-2008, 08:13 PM
Hei pa deg Stefan (hope what little Norsk I know is close). Especially, if you teach with a learner's mind.

Stefan Stenudd
05-08-2008, 09:45 PM
Hei pa deg Stefan (hope what little Norsk I know is close).
Hej på dig, John!
I think you got it right. Swedish is almost the same.

Stefan Stenudd
05-08-2008, 09:49 PM
If you are learning by teaching, then that means that you don't really know what you are doing; then what exactly are you teaching?
Do you mean that a teacher has to stop learning?

Stefan Stenudd
05-08-2008, 09:54 PM
The reason I teach now is mostly that I feel that it is an obligation I will always have to my teachers and their teachers to do my best to pass on what they gave me.
Wonderful! I feel the same way. As long as I benefit from what I have been taught, I have kind of an obligation to teach it to others. Maybe that's the essence of how society and mankind can progress (hopefully...).

aikidoc
05-08-2008, 11:03 PM
I completely disagree with this. Any teacher in any field should be a subject matter expert, or a master. I think this is one reason why in Japan, most teachers are higher in rank. In Japan, the term "sensei" refers to someone who is a professional in their field, such as a doctor, or lawyer.

If you are learning by teaching, then that means that you don't really know what you are doing; then what exactly are you teaching? Concerning teaching techniques, I don't think one learns those just by experience, it takes training and/or studying.

One should learn by learning. And then you teach.

Sorry John but I gotta disagree. If you talk to some of the shihan (I have personally heard it from two 8th dan shihan-one from Japan and one Japanese in America) they still consider themselves students trying to figure out what O'Sensei did. I think after a certain level though your learning while teaching becomes distinctions and insights into what you are doing so that you can better communicate it to your students and evolve your aikido. Most high level instructors continue to evolve their aikido over time which to me is a learning and growing process as one starts to figure more out with experience and time.

To add to it, mastery is not a stagnant concept it is a growth process of never ending improvement and refinement. JMHO

judojo
05-09-2008, 07:28 AM
Dear Stefan Stenudd, God bless sweden. I love the ways of traditional teachings and I love to practice the aikido waza in all possibilities. But such nice when actual teachings are in actions. How to teach is my own personal problems. I LOVE ALL AIKIDOKA. REYNALDO LIGORO ALBANO- JUDOJO, 349 MALVAR STREET, DIPOLOG CITY, 7100, ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE, PHILIPPINES

Diane Stevenson
05-09-2008, 09:40 AM
Let me first disqualify myself by saying I am not a teacher of Aikido. :D There, if you aren't interested in my 2 cents, please pass this by.

I am, however a teacher by training and vocation. In fact, I teach a subject which I can confidently say I have total mastery in: English. My students are adult learners of English. And I can say most emphatically, I have learned more by teaching than by anything I ever did as a student of linguistics.

A teacher not only needs personal mastery, but also a deeper understanding needed to effectively present and guide others to learn. Frequently, other minds think of questions or encounter obstacles that you as a learner never had to deal with, but you as a teacher must help them with.

Therefore, the more advanced the students, the greater the challenge. Paradoxically, the larger the delta between student and teacher the greater the challenge, too.

John Matsushima
05-09-2008, 10:20 AM
Do you mean that a teacher has to stop learning?

If you look at learning while considering the concept of "shu ha ri", then one first masters the forms, then breaks the forms, and then transcends the forms. Once an aikidoist moves past the shu phase, then in my opinion, he is an expert. That is where learning stops and practice provides the experience necessary to break past the forms. To stop learning is not necessarily a bad thing. It means in a sense that one has read the book, and memorized it, and now its time to get out of our chair and put it into practice and forget about the book. So, yes, I think there comes a time when one becomes a teacher and stops learning. This doesn't mean that we don't grow, but just the opposite. As human beings, I think we don't grow simply by learning new things, but by taking the things we know and transcending beyond them. So, I think that to be a teacher, one must at least become an expert in knowledge, and be on the path of leaving that knowledge behind (with the students). The highest level of Aikido is not one of learning, but one of creating, or "Takemusu Aiki". This is the level of mastery. Some seem to think that it is not possible or desirable to want to achieve this level, but rather, I think it is the whole point. Some of Aikido's highest ideals lay in creating new paths, beauty, in spreading love, truth, etc. So,reaching the level of mastery is not the end, but rather the beginning of creation and growth.

The responsibility that teachers have is more to their students, than to their teachers. The student deserves to have someone who is of an expert level teaching them, not someone who is still working out the kinks. The teacher has a responsibility to the student to be committed and not delegate out of laziness.

That being said, I think there is a difference between being a teacher, and simply coaching or providing guidance to someone as one might do in a sempai-kohai relationship. During that time, I think it is when we have a responsibility to teach in a way that is most consistent with that of our teachers. I think that's where our responsibility to our teachers lie. As long as you are in their dojo, or their organization, you do it their way.

I think that it has become a problem in the West, with Aikido spreading too quickly, that too many people who are still learning are becoming teachers, and passing on poor quality Aikido. Too often, many leave a dojo to go down the street and start their own dojo when they are not experts yet. They watch DVDs and go to seminars, and then try to mimic to their students what they learned. Then they explain to their students that because they are so humble, they can admit that their technique isn't perfect, so that's why they make mistakes. Maybe if they were truly humble, they could admit that they are not ready to be teachers yet.

tuturuhan
05-09-2008, 10:39 AM
Let me first disqualify myself by saying I am not a teacher of Aikido. :D There, if you aren't interested in my 2 cents, please pass this by.

I am, however a teacher by training and vocation. In fact, I teach a subject which I can confidently say I have total mastery in: English. My students are adult learners of English. And I can say most emphatically, I have learned more by teaching than by anything I ever did as a student of linguistics.



Lots of things come to mind when I think about teaching and learning. When I was 7 years old I learned to play pool in my parents' pool hall/ gambling joint. I began to teach the soldiers, on leave from Vandenberg Air Base the game of pool as I took their 5 and 10 dollars in fare wagers. My first martial arts teacher also walked in our joint. His name was Sensei Nishimori. This was almost 45 years ago.

Now, as a "oldster" parent of a 7 and 10 year old; I have become a homeschool teacher. I do not have a california teaching credential. Though, I do have a juris doctor and a bachlelor's degree.

Nonetheless, when we as a family started homeschooling the fears and insecurities reared their ugly heads. In the beginning, my friends who were "certified teachers" pooh poohed our attempts, indicating that we were unqualified.

I have come to the opinion that "education" is not a right it is a priveledge. I have learned that the responsibility for educating "your child" is "yours"...not the school's or the governments. Even, if "we" delegate the duty of teaching to "other teachers" and schools; the duty still belongs to us as parents. We are simply being more efficient in "delegating".

The result as been truly rewarding. My girls learned to read at 3 1/2 and they are several grade levels ahead. My 7 year old is doing 6th math, fractions, decimals and order of operations. My 10 year old, is sent to high school algebra class (through the public school district). We chose to delegate her math education...though, I am always choosing and overseeing her math progress.

Yet, in my teaching career, as a martial artist, I have always been aware of the adage "those who can't do...teach".

As such, I have learned that "you" can't teach a student. The student must want to and be encouraged to learn. But, you can teach yourself by using the "model" of teaching others.

As such, paradoxically, I teach "to do". I teach to increase my skill. I teach quite frankly, more for my improvement than my student's improvement. I must be able to "fight and beat" any one who walks in my doors. As such, my students are there as mirrors to my improvement. I must face them. I must allow them to test and challenge me. As such, I get better...as such, they come along for the ride and get better.

Sincerely
Joseph T. Oliva Arriola

Marc Randolph
05-09-2008, 12:00 PM
If you look at learning while considering the concept of "shu ha ri", then one first masters the forms, then breaks the forms, and then transcends the forms. Once an aikidoist moves past the shu phase, then in my opinion, he is an expert. That is where learning stops and practice provides the experience necessary to break past the forms. To stop learning is not necessarily a bad thing. It means in a sense that one has read the book, and memorized it, and now its time to get out of our chair and put it into practice and forget about the book. So, yes, I think there comes a time when one becomes a teacher and stops learning. This doesn't mean that we don't grow, but just the opposite. As human beings, I think we don't grow simply by learning new things, but by taking the things we know and transcending beyond them. <...snip...>Howdy John,

I could very well be wrong, but I may understand the underlying point you appear to be trying to make here... you seem to be saying that once someone becomes a "true" teacher, they know the basics so well that there is nothing "new" to learn. Said another way, after you become a master/expert/teacher, even the most seemingly complex things are simply different applications of the same basic principals you already know.

At a certain level, I think many people would agree with that general idea.

The problem I (and I suspect many others) have is that you seem to be making it an absolute statement: that "true" teachers have nothing more to learn implies the teacher has achieved perfection and knows everything about everything. This seems more than a tad unrealistic. The total amount of knowledge to be had for almost any topic of substance is too much for one person to understand and put to use. I'll go out on a limb and say that there is not enough minutes in ones life to even see all possibilities - therefore how could one have "learned it all." Said another one, if someone hasn't achieved perfection, by definition, they still have more to learn. Being a master at something doesn't mean you know everything there is to know, it simply means you're an expert.
Expert: Having, involving, or demonstrating great skill, dexterity, or knowledge as the result of experience or training.
Nowhere in that definition does it say that someone has no more to learn - it's simply that they have greater skill and/or knowledge when compared to the population. That (plus the ability to pass it on to others in a usable form) is what a teacher is. I know of no teacher that has obtained perfection.

Kind regards,

Marc

tuturuhan
05-09-2008, 12:39 PM
The highest level of Aikido is not one of learning, but one of creating, or "Takemusu Aiki". This is the level of mastery. Some seem to think that it is not possible or desirable to want to achieve this level, but rather, I think it is the whole point.

The responsibility that teachers have is more to their students, than to their teachers. The student deserves to have someone who is of an expert level teaching them, not someone who is still working out the kinks. The teacher has a responsibility to the student to be committed and not delegate out of laziness.

Then they explain to their students that because they are so humble, they can admit that their technique isn't perfect, so that's why they make mistakes. Maybe if they were truly humble, they could admit that they are not ready to be teachers yet.

Mr. John,

Form to no form and back to form, this I agree is transcendence of learned technique to "flexibilty and adaption in application". Yet, IMHO, I don't think we create anything. I think instead we "uncover" what has always been there.

It is in the "mutation", the diversion of doing the technique a 10000 times that we uncover things that have always been in front of us. It is in the development of the "third eye" that we see things that others do not.

Some will simply never "see". Life presents opportunities to "see" but, it does not create equality. As such, I "feel" no responsibility to my students. If the student, has or develops capacity then the student will share in what the Teacher/Doer uncovers. (Don't get me wrong...I care for my students and I wish them the best. But, I don't teach them. They must "teach" themselves by observing...by choosing to see what others do not.)

The truth is that the great masters were not trying to "pass down" their knowledge. They were seeking to "hone" their skills. As such, most of "their" students never made it to their high level. The great teachers knew that fear, jealousy, insecurity prevented them from showing their technique. But, the great ones knew that if you didn't show "the secrets" "they" would never be able to Uncover the mutations. As such, they taught to uncover...knowing that 99% of their students would not see.

As such, I don't worry about the proliferation of the martial arts. I don't worry about the individuals who advertise themselves but, hide behind "I am only a beginner". Though, I am in full agreement with your sentiments.

Nonetheless, I don't have an obligation to the masses. It is the responsibility of student to "teach himself". As such, I am more concerned with "teaching to learn, to see, to prosper and to see "my" results".

Sincerely
Joseph T. Oliva Arriola

Stefan Stenudd
05-10-2008, 06:00 PM
So, yes, I think there comes a time when one becomes a teacher and stops learning. This doesn't mean that we don't grow, but just the opposite.
It seems to me that we just have different definitions of what learning is. To me, improving and developing ones abilities is learning. Growth, as you describe it, is learning, too, as I see it.

I am sure that there are many aikido teachers out there who should have waited longer before starting to teach (maybe I am one of them, myself). But who is to say? And where to draw the line?
In theory, such lines are imaginable, but in reality not.

It is better that everyone teaching does it humbly, as if not yet worthy.

Chuck Clark
05-10-2008, 08:51 PM
Just because you're an "expert" or a "master" with degrees doesn't mean you are a "teacher." You may even be a minimally qualified "instructor" that may eventually keep learning and become more skilled at instructing or even become a teacher. It depends...

Rocky Izumi
05-11-2008, 11:28 PM
A one-eyed man is king in a country of blind men.

and

Those who can, do. Those who can't better stay out of the kitchen.

Rock

Mark Uttech
05-16-2008, 04:59 AM
Onegaishimasu. I believe it was Koichi Tohei who said: "what you learn today, you can teach tomorrow."

In gassho,

Mark