View Full Version : Suggestions for assisting instructors?

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Erik Jögimar
03-24-2009, 05:11 AM
Good day!

I've had the pleasure of being one of this terms assigned assisting instructors, or "Helper" if we're going to translate directly from swedish. At the moment i'm holding yonkyu aikikai, and i'm feeling pretty secure in what is taught in beginners class, going over how i would explain things if i were demonstrating the waza.

What i am having trouble with, that perhaps someone here could share some suggestions or insight on, is how to get even more comfortable in the actual 'teaching' part. I've had opportunity to show tai no henko, mae/ushiro ukemi och sidefalls on my own - with sensei supervising of course. But i feel lost at times, unsure of what to bring up at what stage. To prioritise what needs to be covered first, and then built upon.

Anyone have any thoughts?


Bob Blackburn
03-24-2009, 06:43 AM
It will get easier with experience. As long as they have the general idea of the technique, I usually give them one or two things to work on at a time. There are always endless things to work on. But, by focusing on just one or two, that part will improve more quickly. Maybe it is footwork, hip turn, or relaxing. Another class pick something else.

03-24-2009, 09:57 AM
Remember that sometimes less is more. Point out the big basic things and let the students train.

03-24-2009, 10:12 AM
if you use at least some explanation (ie. the class is not completly silent--some dojos train like this), use expressions like "from what i understand of this technique," "as i learn more about this i see that..." "an aspect of this that im workin on now is..." "of course im still learnin this myself, but...." "as Sensei says...." "a point about this that Sensei stresses is...."


03-24-2009, 12:59 PM
I was taught to never say anything negative, it's best to avoid "don't do this." That is easier said than done. Restraint in that the learning process is not that fast. It's very tempting to try to improve many aspects of someone's technique at once. Keep the talkng to a bare mimimum and always be upbeat. "Rome was not made in a day" as they say. Look for the one thing which will have the biggest improvement then maybe add something else if they have accomplished that. As an assistant instructor you have to realize that not everyone may be receptive to you right away. I suggest you look for students who are receptive to your teaching and focus on them. Don't waste time on a student who does not seem excited about what you have to say even if they could benefit from that A student is someone who wants to learn from you. Mostly its a matter of practice, you get better the longer you do it.

03-25-2009, 10:49 AM
Practice, practice, practice. Then practice some more. Teaching the art is just like learning the art. The more practice, the better you get. I'm in the same boat.

Walter Martindale
03-25-2009, 12:07 PM
Practice, practice, practice. Then practice some more. Teaching the art is just like learning the art. The more practice, the better you get. I'm in the same boat.

True, with a caveat.. Practice makes permanent. Practicing errors makes a person really good at making the errors. Practicing good fundamentals cuts down on errors and makes practice more productive.
"Here's what I think sensei does" or "Here's why I think your movement is failing, and if you change it this way (woops) see how much more easily you throw me"
as another has said - try to avoid "don't"

03-25-2009, 10:59 PM
Anyone have any thoughts?

Ask your teacher.


Rob Watson
03-27-2009, 06:31 PM
Start with foot work and work your way up to the head (ideals/ideas etc).

Many of us came to the art the other way around with our heads filled with ideals/ideas to the point that we were unable to even get the footwork ...

It sounded nifty in my head anyway.

03-27-2009, 11:10 PM
When assisting, try footwork: Keep your foot out of your mouth, feet on the ground, keep at least one foot in the door and not up someone's.... :)

05-01-2009, 11:30 AM
I remember the first few times I taught, when I was about to show something.... I had somehow stepped into what our dojo liked to call "The Hole". All the sudden, any and all knowledge I had gained mysteriously dissapeared making me feel like a lost beginner all over again. I have found that it gets easier with time. Your sensei wouldn't have you teach something if they didn't think you were capable of teaching it, so take that confidence with you. I have also found that words sometimes are lost and that the movement and demonstrations are actually better absorbed.... especially for the new people as they are still working on the basics and aren't ready to focus on the finer points yet. Best of luck and remember it truly does get easier in time. Pretty soon, you will feel right at home up there!

05-01-2009, 11:33 AM
Oh... one more thing... praise, praise and praise some more! If you need to correct someone, I prefered the method of praise then correct. For instance: if they are working on tai no henko: You did a great job keeping your body close to theirs, just remember to try to straighten that back leg.