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Thomas Osborn
07-15-2010, 12:20 PM
7/15/10 Note: Changes in my evaluative criteria. Way back at the beginning of this blog, I tried to lay out what I wanted to accomplish for and with the vets, how I wanted to do that, and some ways to tell if I was being successful. These were;
GOALS: While I want the class to be an enjoyable break from their regular schedule, I really want to give people something positive they can use outside of class, in their regular life, dealing with their real life issues. Properly taught, the physical activity should have an effect on their mental/emotional activity [kinesthetic learning]. It doesn’t really matter if they are consciously aware of this. Covert can often work better than overt.
Based on discussions with the staff and given the time and location realities:
1. Stress the collaborative nature of aikido practice, Nage as teacher, Uke is student.
2. All techniques will end with a standing pin, occasionally a take down. No throws or falls.
3. Concentrate on basic moves and techniques; 1 & 2 hand grabs, shoulder grabs, shomenuchi.
No tsuki [punch] as it could be a bit too risky with this group.
4. Drill on the 5 points of technique
A. welcoming “attack” and relaxing to center
B. getting “off the line” and entering
C. blending attacker’s [Uke] “center” with defender’s [Nage]
D. Nage utilizes technique to move their own body, maintaining relaxed and centered movement and not focusing on Uke
E. coming to a place where the attacker is secure and both participants are safe
[especially Nage]

EVALUATION: To evaluate progress/success on these I’ve come up with the following set of goals;
1. That guys will enjoy the class and keep coming
2. That there will be a good interaction among the various “demographics” of the group and a sense of group will develop
3. Guys will learn and demonstrate an ability to consciously relax and center when “attacked”/stressed
4. Staff will have some commonly held language they can use to help Vets in certain situations, i.e. relax, center, breath down
5. All of these will carry over outside of class.

I’ve been able to look at these every once in a while to help keep myself on track and to keep changing things appropriately. At this point I can up-date a couple of things;
Under GOALS;
A. welcoming “attack” and relaxing to center when feeling vulnerable, and utilizing that “vulnerability” as a strength
D. Nage utilizes technique to move their own body, maintaining relaxed, balanced and centered movement and not focusing on Uke
2. Eliminate.
Insert after 3 [as 4] “People will exhibit more centered, relaxed and balanced movement.
5. Vets will feel/evidence an ability to deal more confidently with situations of vulnerability outside of class.

These aren’t major changes. Eliminating #2 was just a recognition that these guys are a pretty tight group based on their common military background and the fact that the PTSD gives them a lot in common. Changes and additions are focused on mainly dealing more, and more effectively, with the issue of vulnerability, and using the basics of Aikido to cope. This is based on Staff feedback, discussions with the guys, and my own experiences. I have to find more and better ways to include this issue throughout my program.

(Original blog post may be found here (http://ptsd-veterans.blogspot.com/2010/07/changes-in-evaluative-criteria.html).)