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Dave de Vos
10-29-2011, 02:59 PM
I was wondering, do you take notes of classes?

I am a beginner, started september 2010.

Last week I was thinking, we are taught many things in a lesson and up to now, when my teacher explains something, I'm thinking: ok, that's good to know, I'll remember that. But when my teacher reminds us of the same issue a month or so later, I realize I forgot.

How do you remember all the details? Last monday after class, I made a list of the waza we did in the lesson and I did the same last thursday, but I think it might not be enough to remember the details in the long run. There's just so much to remember.

Is it any use to take notes? Or is it just a matter of being reminded of things until you don't forget anymore?

Janet Rosen
10-29-2011, 03:59 PM
Everyone learns differently.
I would never have learned weapons kata w/o scribbling notes step by step

Mario Tobias
10-29-2011, 04:12 PM
it's good to keep a training journal. it just takes less than 10 minutes per day to update. consider it part of your training.

Michael Hackett
10-29-2011, 05:38 PM
Yes, taking notes can be very valuable to you, particularly in weapons work.

lbb
10-29-2011, 07:08 PM
It depends on what you mean by "a technique". Are you talking about (for example) ikkyo, or are you talking about a combination of attack and waza, for example shomenuchi ikkyo?

In my experience in teaching various physical skills, I've found that most (not all) people learn best by means of a teaching progression of some kind. Most senseis don't teach this way, but if you know how, you can create a progression for yourself.

Peter Goldsbury
10-29-2011, 07:22 PM
Hello,

In all my years of aikido, I have taken extensive notes just twice. The first time was at a summer training camp in the USA in 1981 (I think) given by Morihiro Saito Sensei. There was so much information input that I went through an entire notebook. I still have the notes and sometimes use them for comparing what he did later, in the 'lost seminars', for example.

The second time was at the first intensive seminar I attended with Hiroshi Tada. Tada Sensei does extensive breathing and body exercises and you need to know the correct sequence and method.

In your case, I think you need body education, rather than written notes. Ruud is a student of Shimamoto Shihan, whose aikido is distinctive and difficult to imitate.

Best wishes,

P Goldsbury

I was wondering, do you take notes of classes?

I am a beginner, started september 2010.

Last week I was thinking, we are taught many things in a lesson and up to now, when my teacher explains something, I'm thinking: ok, that's good to know, I'll remember that. But when my teacher reminds us of the same issue a month or so later, I realize I forgot.

How do you remember all the details? Last monday after class, I made a list of the waza we did in the lesson and I did the same last thursday, but I think it might not be enough to remember the details in the long run. There's just so much to remember.

Is it any use to take notes? Or is it just a matter of being reminded of things until you don't forget anymore?

kewms
10-29-2011, 09:24 PM
it's good to keep a training journal. it just takes less than 10 minutes per day to update. consider it part of your training.

This. For years, well beyond the beginner stage, I never took notes about aikido classes.

Then I started keeping a training journal for another activity. I soon discovered it was invaluable for tracking how I felt, monitoring the cause and evolution of minor injuries and soreness, the effectiveness of my training program over time...

Not being completely incapable of learning from experience, I've started keeping an aikido journal. It's already proven especially useful in helping me tie the threads from different classes and different teachers together.

What should go in such notes? That's entirely up to you, and will probably change as you get more experienced. Think of it as something like a lab notebook: record what you tried, what you expected to happen, what actually happened, and what you learned from the experience.

Katherine

Dave de Vos
10-30-2011, 03:36 AM
It depends on what you mean by "a technique". Are you talking about (for example) ikkyo, or are you talking about a combination of attack and waza, for example shomenuchi ikkyo?

This is what I wrote down after class on monday as a reminder of what we did:

(suwari waza) ryo kata dori ikkyo omote & ura
yodan tsuki ikkyo
yokomen uchi ude kime nage omote
kosa dori uchi kaiten nage
chudan tsuki ude kime nage
chudan tsuki hiji kime
(tachi dori) shomen uchi sankyo

I didn't note details, but perhaps I should (like with chudan tsuki hiji kime, at the end of my tenkan, the palm of my hand should be more or less on the back of uke's fist, if I recollect correctly)
But then my notes might become so verbose that I'll never be able to find anything back.

In my experience in teaching various physical skills, I've found that most (not all) people learn best by means of a teaching progression of some kind. Most senseis don't teach this way, but if you know how, you can create a progression for yourself.

Yes, I think my teachers do that. Often we do a couple of related exercises in sequence. Like first we do some exercises to train the initial body movement, atemi, kuzushi and then we train some techniques than can follow from this general beginning. That helps a lot to learn and it also stresses that these initial movements are at least as important as the technique itself, that we should not rush to do the technique without first moving properly.

The thing is, that these movements are usually not in the names of the exercises. For instance chudan tsuki hiji kime, it describes the initial attack and the final technique, but the most important part, the movement between the attack and the technique, is not in the name. How to remember that part? I almost wish we had a camera recording the lessons to capture that part, because it is hard for me do describe all the movement.

Is it a matter op practising in class until all of this becomes a second nature so that when uke attacks with chudan tsuki you instantly know how to move and while you move you think, "hey we're going to end up in a position were I could do hiji kime" and then instantly you know how to continue to apply it?

Dave de Vos
10-30-2011, 03:51 AM
In your case, I think you need body education, rather than written notes. Ruud is a student of Shimamoto Shihan, whose aikido is distinctive and difficult to imitate.


I don't know much about aikido other than what is taught in Ruud's dojos, so I can't really compare, but I think I understand what you mean.
You're probably right that body education is the only way to learn it. But as my body is a slow learner, I was hoping that somehow I could help my body with my mind's learning capabilities.

P.S. Thank you for your seminar in Tilburg last March. I enjoyed it.

Dave de Vos
10-30-2011, 03:59 AM
Everyone learns differently.
I would never have learned weapons kata w/o scribbling notes step by step

it's good to keep a training journal. it just takes less than 10 minutes per day to update. consider it part of your training.

Yes, taking notes can be very valuable to you, particularly in weapons work.

Not being completely incapable of learning from experience, I've started keeping an aikido journal. It's already proven especially useful in helping me tie the threads from different classes and different teachers together.

What should go in such notes? That's entirely up to you, and will probably change as you get more experienced. Think of it as something like a lab notebook: record what you tried, what you expected to happen, what actually happened, and what you learned from the experience.


Thanks for the advice. I think I'll experiment a bit with what kind of notes work best for me now.

Eva Antonia
10-30-2011, 04:52 AM
Hello,

when I started with aikido I also thought that it might be useful to make notes and especially drawings of footwork etc. But I never did it because I started remembering names, explanations and all sorts of theoretic things much quicker than I gained ability to implement this knowledge.

So in theory I know perfectly well how to perform a really efficient irimi nage (ikkyo, kaiten nage....whatever) on attack XYZ. Nothing to add in written which I wouldn't already know. BUT....how come that in practice it still fails more often than not?

People have different ways how to learn. I am slow with assimilating movements with my body, with getting this sort of automatic reaction , with using my hips without having to think that I now should make a 45 ° movement towards uke etc. So if you're far better with theory than with practice, I fear notes help near to nothing. But if you belong to those whose body is naturally gifted but who lack the comprehension of the concept behind, maybe it's exactly the opposite. And then there are those who learn both with the body and the mind...

Wishing you much luck, success and pleasure,

Eva

Lyle Laizure
10-30-2011, 08:38 AM
Notes can be invaluable. When the sensei starts talking it is nice to have a notebook handy or if there is a particular technique that requires specific footwork I will make notes about it. I didn't start taking note for Aikido until I had been training for over a decade. In retrospect I might could have improved quicker or at the very least not looked like an idiot so much had I taken notes sooner.

Shadowfax
10-30-2011, 12:24 PM
Do what works best for you. If you think taking notes might help then take notes. Maybe you will find it useful maybe you won't.

I usually share what I worked on with my Facebook friends after a class as a sort of review; but taking notes during a class to me is just too cumbersome and not useful.

Dave de Vos
10-30-2011, 12:47 PM
I was thinking about notes after class, at home. During class there is usually no time, sensei showing the technique takes only a minute or two. I wouldn't want to keep my training partner waiting while I'm taking notes.

Hanna B
10-30-2011, 02:02 PM
I have tried making notes after class but it never really worked out for me. Nowadays I sometimes write notes after class if I think the material was especifically valuable to me, but usually not.

I blog about my training, though. Blogging is different from having a private journal in that you are writing for others, and in my blog I write mostly about other things than "last class we did these techniques, and these are points I should remember". It's more of reflections, like "We have done lots of Y lately, I wonder if we will be getting back to X again before winter is over or if we will continue to other things." "My ukemi has improved but not as fast as I'd like. I wonder if I should work specifically to improve my ukemi - I just don't know how! and sometimes problems get solved just by continous training, even om other stuff than your actual point of struggle." "My positions are still to narrow, but not to the extent it was a year ago." If I write about the atual class content I try to make more of an overall description of class content than the actual techniques. In doing this I have to recapitulate class and also analyse it, to some extent. I imagine it actually does have some value in my learning.

When I take training notes, I mostly put them on my blog just to keep them somewhere - and when I do that, I've noticed that those notes become much better written than if I wrote them with the intention to keep them private. When I write so that others can understand, not just myself, then I actually understand what I meant two years later. That's a major problem with training notes, IMHO. Writing so that you actually understand them later. I know of someone who spent a year at the Aikikai Hombu and faithfully took notes of every class, that he nowadays hardly understands at all.

You're not yet very advanced, and you're probably somewhat overwhelmed by the material presented to you. If you keep training, that will get better over time. I really don't think anyone expects you to remember everything. If your class is mixed levels, where some people have been training for many years, you are probably not expected to grasp and remember everything. Some stuff you probably should just float pass, without much focus on memorising details.

The most common reason to dropping out from taking training notes is probably overdoing it from the start. One possible version would be to take notes of stuff the second time your teacher brings it up. Those things should be somewhat more important than the rest, probably. Or perhaps to take notes of three things from each class, but no more than that.

Having the notes in a searchable i.e. electronic format is preferrable, IMHO.

TimB99
10-30-2011, 05:01 PM
Yes I take notes.. Not during class, though. After class I usually try to "re-live" the things we've done and I scribble down anything I think was important. The process of taking notes in detail itself facilitates that process of re-living, in my experience, with nearly each new piece of information leading into a 'oh, right! and then came this and this'.

And whatever doesn't come then, comes in the many many times afterwards spent thinking about aikido anyways (yes, I'm one of them aikido nutters :p )

lbb
10-30-2011, 08:42 PM
The thing is, that these movements are usually not in the names of the exercises. For instance chudan tsuki hiji kime, it describes the initial attack and the final technique, but the most important part, the movement between the attack and the technique, is not in the name. How to remember that part? I almost wish we had a camera recording the lessons to capture that part, because it is hard for me do describe all the movement.

But even if you had a camera, it wouldn't do what you want. I suspect that for any initial-attack-and-final-technique name combo (for lack of a better term) you can name, there are multiple variations -- sometimes many, many variations. If you capture a video version, that's just one acceptable way to do it. So now you think you "know" that technique, and then you go to class, and sensei says that technique name...and proceeds to do something that looks radically different to you. Oops.

By way of an analogy -- I heard a story once that when American GIs went to Korea and took Korean language classes, they were taught hangul (the Korean system of writing) in a way that makes it extremely difficult to learn. Hangul is a phonetic alphabet, one letter per sound, but it was being taught to American GIs not as an alphabet -- here's this letter, it makes this sound -- but as syllables. So, they were taught to write "gan", "dan", "san", etc. -- they had to learn all these syllables instead of a relatively small number of letters that could be combined according to a few simple rules (I have a theory that this is because of the Japanese imperialist era in Korea and the fact that the closest Japanese equivalent to hangul is hiragana, which is a syllabary rather than an alphabet...but I digress).

It seems like you're trying to do something similar here -- that is, to learn "chudan tsuki hiji kime" as one conceptual blob. You can learn aikido techniques that way, but it's like learning to write "gan" in hangul -- you can write "gan" but you can't write anything else. To go beyond a rote learning of a very specific instance of a technique -- not a waza, but just one instance of one -- you need to look at the components that make it up.

And, as you say, there's always the part in between the attack and the "final technique", which isn't articulated at all in the technique name. So what is that? Well...it's the opening, and what you do with it, and when you do it. Your initial response to the attack, your body movement and your timing, creates an opening -- some opening. So, what openings can you create from chudan tsuki? How can you move, what can you do to get there? If the attack is chudan tsuki, what are the ways you can move to create the opening that will allow you to get to hiji kime?

Is it a matter op practising in class until all of this becomes a second nature so that when uke attacks with chudan tsuki you instantly know how to move and while you move you think, "hey we're going to end up in a position were I could do hiji kime" and then instantly you know how to continue to apply it?

Well, of course it's a matter of practicing, and there isn't any method or magic bullet that's going to get you there faster (although there are a lot of ways you can slow yourself down). Personally, I think that phrases like "second nature" are misleading, but that's just me. It all sounds a wee bit too mystical. I think the truth is that with practice, you get to be less reactive, and you can see more things happening, and then with more practice, you can actually do something with it.

RED
10-30-2011, 09:04 PM
In my opinion, whatever works for you. I can't take notes, not how I learn movements. I'm a physical learner; got to do something repetitively under the instruction of a high ranked Aikidoka. That's what works for me. Trying to write down what I think a sensei meant after they said it never works for me. Just got to do as they say repetitively until I "get" what they were saying. I'm not much for intellectualizing I guess... more for just doing.

Mario Tobias
10-31-2011, 01:12 AM
You can also try first taking notes by watching the techniques on youtube.

I especially like saito sensei's series, endo sensei and yamada sensei's exam pointers.

The thing is no matter how many times you repeat and repeat the exact same clip, you'll observe something different everytime. There's just too much information to take in. The devil is in the details.

Is it palm up, palm down? tenkai or tenkan? how's the footwork like and how do you get to that position? how many variations are there? how do you take kuzushi from that attack? what is the technique called?

The process of keen observation will accelerate your knowledge. It's not the notes per se but the process of taking notes that's important because it hones your observation and memory skills.

Hanna B
10-31-2011, 01:16 AM
It seems like you're trying to do something similar here -- that is, to learn "chudan tsuki hiji kime" as one conceptual blob. You can learn aikido techniques that way, but it's like learning to write "gan" in hangul -- you can write "gan" but you can't write anything else. To go beyond a rote learning of a very specific instance of a technique -- not a waza, but just one instance of one -- you need to look at the components that make it up.

And those components the tread starter might not yet see.

One way of taking notes would be noticing similarities between different techniques, to break it down in pieces. Some of these pieces might have specific names, others won't (or your teacher don't use them). You can invent your own, of course. Like "the duck" or "zipper step" or whatever.

A lecture in university is meant to be your level, usually. You shouldn't write everything down but sort the most important stuff out, but that's usually not that difficult - after a lecture, you are expected to have understood most of what the lecturer said. Aikido classes usually aren't that way, especially not if taught in mixed level group. Some of the teaching is probably way above your level - some of the techniques probably are, and some of the details taught in the simpler techniques as well. If chudan tsuki hiji kime is confusing to you - let go. (I don't know what that is, btw. I know about hiji kime osae, from various attacks, not sure if that's what you are referring to. In most systems that would not be considered one of the most basic techniques. Not something you are expected to remember and perform well after your first year.)

In my experience in teaching various physical skills, I've found that most (not all) people learn best by means of a teaching progression of some kind. Most senseis don't teach this way, but if you know how, you can create a progression for yourself.

I'm not 100% sure what you mean by this. But if you mean that you teach one thing one class, and the next class builds on it, and the whole class should basically understand all the material - no, that's not how budo is usually taught. And that's tough for us, since we expect something different.

I like the mixed class concept. One of the consequences is that the people in class will be working on different things, depending on their level, although the techniques are the same. So one might be concentrating on foot position and another on timing, and a third one on memorising techniques as sequences. I don't agree that's a waste of time - not necessarily. If you know one sequence, you can see pieces of it in other techniques. But if so, pick just one sequence each class or you'll be completely overwhelmed. If you grok one new thing every class, that's good enough - really, it is, since

In your case, I think you need body education, rather than written notes. Ruud is a student of Shimamoto Shihan, whose aikido is distinctive and difficult to imitate.

I know nothing about your teacher (which Peter Goldsbury apparently does) but agree that most of your learning is in your body, not in your mind. Learning motor skills does not work quite the same way as learning intellectual stuff. You are working on timing, on foot placement, on body angles, on kuzushi, on [long list] all the time, most of which you are unaware. And that's more important than the actual techniques. I know it doesn't seem like that in the beginning, and the "grading syllabus" thing sure helps in obscuring that fact. The most important thing in a specific class might be a way of leaning forward, or keeping completely upright position, or tilting the pelvis, or timing your breath with your movement. Being too obsessed with "learning techniques" makes those things more difficult to notice. OTOH I think that's a stage most people will go through.

I have one more suggestion for you. Ask your teacher if you think it is a good idea to take notes - and if so, what things he would expect or suggest someone your level to put in your notes. His idea of that might not match yours completely.

Focus is good. But what if one focuses on the wrong things?

"Patience, young padawan." ;)

Tim Ruijs
10-31-2011, 03:28 AM
Hi Dave

In the past I too have had the urge to take notes. I have tried, but in the end my notes could never quite capture the essence. Off course two weeks, a month later it still made some sense, but after a couple of months... I have learned to trust my body to remember the technique (and recognise it in the future when it reappears in class). Thing is that when you practise intensively your focal point shifts all the time, so what is 'important' to you now probably is not after a few months (or even weeks or classes!). Only after a longer period of practise you will start to see repetition of patterns in techniques (which makes it easier to understand and remember). Also you will find key principles.
Try not to remember thousands of techniques but rather the handful of principles they originated from.

SeiserL
10-31-2011, 04:56 AM
I am a note taker and list maker.
Helps me access "student" learning mode.
Physical technical details, too many.
Process and principles, always the same.
Whatever it takes to forward the learning process.
Shoshin not Mushin.

lbb
10-31-2011, 09:11 AM
I'm not 100% sure what you mean by this. But if you mean that you teach one thing one class, and the next class builds on it, and the whole class should basically understand all the material - no, that's not how budo is usually taught. And that's tough for us, since we expect something different.

That's not exactly what I mean by a progression. What I mean is that you don't start off by trying to teach the whole technique. For example, if you want to teach a forward roll, rather than starting by having everyone stand up and give it a go, you might start by having everyone sit on the floor and practice rocking back and forth, side to side, around in a circle, then progressing to rolling backwards up onto one shoulder and back down, then progressing to rolling backwards over that shoulder, and then progressing to rolling backwards over that shoulder, holding a three-point stance, and then reversing the motion to come back forward.

To my mind, an effective teaching progression has two central characteristics. First, it is progressive. It breaks down the progress of skill acquisition in a way that is more conducive to success, since each successive step builds on the previous one and reinforces the value of that sub-skill. Each step or sub-skill can be mastered in turn and can provide a "resting place" -- if that's all you get done today, okay, you come back to the next class, move fairly rapidly through the progression, and are ready to move on.

Second, an effective teaching progression is adaptable. A good teacher doesn't just check off the steps of their teaching progression -- at every step, they watch the students to see how well this step is working. If a student seems stuck at a particular step, you throw it out and substitute something that will work. Thus, there is no "teaching progression for forward roll" -- there's a bag of tricks and an awareness of how you can string them together.

Is this how budo is typically taught? No, but then, it's not how anything is typically taught, except in the few fields that put a real emphasis on teaching or coaching skills.

kewms
10-31-2011, 11:13 AM
Is this how budo is typically taught? No, but then, it's not how anything is typically taught, except in the few fields that put a real emphasis on teaching or coaching skills.

I think gymnastics are usually taught this way. The more basic skills serve to build strength and coordination for the more advanced skills.

Katherine

chris wright
10-31-2011, 11:31 AM
Hi Dave, like others have said different people have different methods for learning, for me i found writing notes whilst at college really got me through my courses and exams - this approach seemed to help my Aikido.
I keep a lesson training diary (9yrs and counting - 3 times a week) and a separate A4 spiral folder with sketches and notes in.
I've found this excellent revision for grade exams, and also helps with lesson structure and planning if i have to step in for Sensei.

aikishihan
10-31-2011, 11:35 AM
It was once, twice and often explained to me, that a genuine "Goal" must have certain attributes to be effective. 1) It must be what YOU want, and not what you want for someone else, or what someone else wants for you, 2) It must be attainable, within a reasonable time frame and modicum of effort, 3) It must have a time limitation, and not a "whenever it happens" standard, 4) It must be written down.

If your goal is Aikido advancement, achieving levels of competence or mastery you choose to pursue, then yes, it must be written down. Call it notes, call it a diary, or call it your ongoing playbook of life, but call em as you see em, and follow the yellow Bic road.

You hear, you forget; You see, you remember; You do, and you understand.

Gambatte kudasai!

Dave de Vos
10-31-2011, 05:09 PM
One way of taking notes would be noticing similarities between different techniques, to break it down in pieces. Some of these pieces might have specific names, others won't (or your teacher don't use them). You can invent your own, of course. Like "the duck" or "zipper step" or whatever.

A lecture in university is meant to be your level, usually. You shouldn't write everything down but sort the most important stuff out, but that's usually not that difficult - after a lecture, you are expected to have understood most of what the lecturer said. Aikido classes usually aren't that way, especially not if taught in mixed level group. Some of the teaching is probably way above your level - some of the techniques probably are, and some of the details taught in the simpler techniques as well. If chudan tsuki hiji kime is confusing to you - let go. (I don't know what that is, btw. I know about hiji kime osae, from various attacks, not sure if that's what you are referring to. In most systems that would not be considered one of the most basic techniques. Not something you are expected to remember and perform well after your first year.)

I have one more suggestion for you. Ask your teacher if you think it is a good idea to take notes - and if so, what things he would expect or suggest someone your level to put in your notes. His idea of that might not match yours completely.

Focus is good. But what if one focuses on the wrong things?

"Patience, young padawan." ;)

Thank you for the good advice! I'll ask my teacher what he thinks about taking notes.

(And indeed I meant hiji kime osae, I think it was abbreviated in class to hiji kime)

Janet Rosen
10-31-2011, 05:31 PM
I don't think I ever would have asked an instructor about taking notes outside of class, for a couple of reasons:
Some of my instructors have had no understanding of my learning style - they expect everybody can pick up weapons by osmosis/repetition for example, and the thought that somebody could do so by reading a step by step list drove them nuts.
My notes are me taking responsibility for my learning - MY priorities, which will change over time.
YMMV.

kewms
10-31-2011, 05:52 PM
I don't think I ever would have asked an instructor about taking notes outside of class, for a couple of reasons:
Some of my instructors have had no understanding of my learning style - they expect everybody can pick up weapons by osmosis/repetition for example, and the thought that somebody could do so by reading a step by step list drove them nuts.
My notes are me taking responsibility for my learning - MY priorities, which will change over time.
YMMV.

This. Your notes are for you, and what others do is useful only by way of suggestions.

You should certainly ask your instructor about etiquette if you're thinking of taking notes *during* class. But even then, the actual content is something for you to decide.

Katherine

Dave de Vos
10-31-2011, 05:53 PM
By way of an analogy -- I heard a story once that when American GIs went to Korea and took Korean language classes, they were taught hangul (the Korean system of writing) in a way that makes it extremely difficult to learn. Hangul is a phonetic alphabet, one letter per sound, but it was being taught to American GIs not as an alphabet -- here's this letter, it makes this sound -- but as syllables. So, they were taught to write "gan", "dan", "san", etc. -- they had to learn all these syllables instead of a relatively small number of letters that could be combined according to a few simple rules (I have a theory that this is because of the Japanese imperialist era in Korea and the fact that the closest Japanese equivalent to hangul is hiragana, which is a syllabary rather than an alphabet...but I digress).

It seems like you're trying to do something similar here -- that is, to learn "chudan tsuki hiji kime" as one conceptual blob. You can learn aikido techniques that way, but it's like learning to write "gan" in hangul -- you can write "gan" but you can't write anything else. To go beyond a rote learning of a very specific instance of a technique -- not a waza, but just one instance of one -- you need to look at the components that make it up.


This made me think. I'm not sure how I try to learn it aikido.
Extending your interesting analogy to writing, I think of learning to pronunciate arabic text, which typically leaves out many of the vowels between the consonants. You have to know the words and the language to know how to pronunciate written texts. So I think I need to learn many words, to learn which vowels (movement, timing, atemi, kuzushi, more movement, alignment) can go between which consonants (attacks, techniques).

kewms
10-31-2011, 06:10 PM
Again, everyone learns differently.

There are many paths from <attack> to <technique>. You may be explicitly taught some of them, you may discover others through a fortuitous combination of your and your partner's movement and energy. There are, for any given technique, probably dozens of different paths to the same destination.

So actually cataloging them may or may not be useful. Different cataloging schemes may work for different people. Different experience levels will have different views of what might be going on in any particular technique, and will therefore use different categories.

Don't worry about it too much. Find a notetaking scheme that you like. Change it as needed. Keep training.

When you learn a language, you start out trying to memorize each individual word you encounter. Then you learn to conjugate verbs, and discover that all verbs of *this* form conjugate in the same way. Or that all nouns take *these* endings. Then you learn about roots and modifiers: make a negative like *this,* turn a noun into an adjective like *that.* Being fluent doesn't mean that you've memorized the dictionary, it means that you understand the structure of the language well enough to deduce unknown words from context.

Katherine

Hanna B
11-01-2011, 01:09 AM
I don't think I ever would have asked an instructor about taking notes outside of class, for a couple of reasons:
Some of my instructors have had no understanding of my learning style - they expect everybody can pick up weapons by osmosis/repetition for example, and the thought that somebody could do so by reading a step by step list drove them nuts.
My notes are me taking responsibility for my learning - MY priorities, which will change over time.
YMMV.

You should certainly ask your instructor about etiquette if you're thinking of taking notes *during* class. But even then, the actual content is something for you to decide.


You both have a point. But I must have been unclear. I didn't mean "ask permission". I meant that it might be a good idea for the thread starter to investigate what his teacher is expecting him to learn. Same as he supposes, and is focusing on - or different?

Janet has a whole other possibility to take responsibility for her learning than the TS here. That has to do with levels. Sure, take responsability for your learning, but realise you'll probably have to change your concepts of what you should learn a couple of times.

Regarding the issue of taking notes in itself, advice from the teacher should be at least as valuabe as advice from some random people on an internet forum. But not all teacher's advice are perfect for every student. That is correct.

Pauliina Lievonen
11-01-2011, 07:19 AM
Some years back I used to sit in the train every day. I had a little notebook where I wrote down some of the techniques that were on the list of the next grading I was supposed to take. I'd go through the technique in my head, write down the steps and any detail I could think of (like typical mistakes, or if my teacher had told me to focus on some aspect of it). If there was a point in the technique that I wasn't sure of I'd leave some space to fill it in later. And I'd write down any questions I had. I rarely asked them in class, often they got answered in time anyway.

Then the next time the technique was practiced in class I'd pay extra attention to that place in the technique that I wasn't sure of yet.

Usually the easy things to write down were how to receive the attack (there are only so many ways we receive, say, a shomenuchi, on the list of for example third kyu) and how a technique ends (ikkyo ends more or less the same whatever the attack was). The things I needed to write down more detail about were just as Dave said the moments in between receiving the attack and getting to the technique.

I focused on my next grading not because it was so important to grade but to limit the amount of techniques I was paying extra attention to. It was a way to organize my practice.

kvaak
Pauliina

phitruong
11-01-2011, 08:48 AM
took some note at my first Ikeda seminar. the note said "move your inside". there were some footnotes, that mentioned: rotate kidney, flipping spleen and liver. there was a question mark next to large intestine. don't remember if it was a question or i was supposed to rearrange my large intestine into a question mark. i believed i stop taking notes soon after and have not been doing so since. :)

*soon after i went to a dim sum place and ate something that looked like some internal stuffs of some domesticated animals (very questionable about that) and did indeed move it around inside and eventually to the outside*

i don't take notes with regular classes, but mostly with seminars. my previous seminar notes usually along the line of,
"some kind of throw then lock"
"some other kind of throw, then lock"
"threw and lock by hot chick"
"threw and lock by ugly guy"
"pin by a big, ugly guy"
"pin by a large women (notes: might not be a woman, could be a big ugly guy)"
"threw by an old guy that giggled like a girl"
"threw by giggling girl"
"got whack in the head by dojo mate (note: vengeance is thy name)"
"too much ki built up. moved around so folks couldn't pinpoint (note: should not eat mexican food for lunch at seminar)"
"find way to kill the bastard who put a dripping water fountain in the dojo (note: should not drink so much tea at lunch and thanks bujin gi pants that have zipper)"
"got whack multiple times by sensei but didn't know what was the problem (note: i think there is a conspiracy here that folks just enjoyed whacking the phister)"

yup, my notes tend to run along that line and quite helpful to my aikido practice. now if i could figure out what is my aikido practice, then i would be good.

Carsten Möllering
11-01-2011, 08:59 AM
I have a student, who used to take notes. When I got aware of that I asked him to show me what he was writing down.
When I read his notes I realized that he had written down how he had done the techniques. Not how I had shown them. Which was quite different.

RED
11-01-2011, 09:29 AM
I have a student, who used to take notes. When I got aware of that I asked him to show me what he was writing down.
When I read his notes I realized that he had written down how he had done the techniques. Not how I had shown them. Which was quite different.

That is really what my concern would be. Especially if students are practicing on their own wrong movements, making those wrong movements habit. It is more work for a teacher to un-teach them in my opinion. Nothing is a substitute for training under the eyes of a skilled instructor. Aikido is an apprenticeship in my opinion.

Keith Larman
11-01-2011, 10:15 AM
Had a guy who took copious notes. He was in a class where I assisted the Chief Instructor regularly. I remember the Chief Instructor fixing something in this student -- he tended to overdo a particular movement. So he told him to it vastly smaller. Which actually resulted in the guy still doing it too big, but much closer and he was more successful. He sat down and wrote it all down. I thought "Great!".

Years later I was in a class and watched this same guy telling a newer student the secret to doing this technique. He proceeded to demonstrate with the still too large movement but said "This is how I was shown by the Chief Instructor and this is what *really* works." I asked him about it and he insisted that it was exactly what he was shown and that it was correct because he had it *right here* in his notes.

And I see habits on very experienced people that never seem to go away. I often wonder how many of those things were from corrections long ago that were misunderstood or overemphasized. Then I wonder about myself.

I take notes periodically, especially if it is a seminar with someone new with completely different stuff. Otherwise I rarely take notes other than terminology - I can never remember technique names.

lbb
11-01-2011, 11:04 AM
I really like Pauliina's approach. I think I'll try that.

danj
11-01-2011, 06:27 PM
Yes I take notes.. Not during class, though. After class I usually try to "re-live" the things we've done and I scribble down anything I think was important. The process of taking notes in detail itself facilitates that process of re-living, in my experience, with nearly each new piece of information leading into a 'oh, right! and then came this and this'.

+1

I think this is the most valuable part of taking notes, it forces a mindful practice through review, critical review (i.e. deciding what to write down). Its engaging and effective because its an auditory, kinaesthetic, visual process, hear, write, see what you saw and seeingyour writing. To a certain extent it doesn't matter then if you never look at them again.

As a historical record that you go go back too, having said that i often dive into something from years ago.

FWIW once in visiting a shihans house I discovered a shelf full of notes going back decades, this from a teacher who gives the impression of being a 'free and easy' just go with it sort of person.

bleepbeep
11-01-2011, 07:07 PM
I take notes. And make lists. The notes and lists help me organise things, how to present them, or teach them...I like taking notes especially when visiting shihan or another teacher handles the class.
Sometimes, I make connections and see how one thing is connected to the other, and then after a few years, when I look at my notes, I remember the seminar and how the teacher taught it.

Some people learn by doing, or looking or listening or feeling..taking notes helps me retain, review and relive the lessons.

Carsten Möllering
11-02-2011, 04:37 AM
In my experience aikido is about moving, it is something that devellops the body.
How can something which is written down get into the body, the movements, the feeling and intuition?

Rerering to the shihan and his notes:
I know some teachers who are noting what they teach and how they teach it.
Is this the same like a student taking notes of what he thinks to be important?

Mark Freeman
11-02-2011, 05:32 AM
I'm not a note taker by nature and agree with Carsten that aikido is about moving (both mind and body).
I have lost count of the number of times that I heard the same words from my sensei over the years, only to one day have a lightbulb moment, where that collection of words made complete sense. If I had written them down, would that have speeded up the knowing process? maybe...maybe not.

I have seen those who take copious notes, and those who don't, and there doesn't seem to be any correlation between one or the other and how well one progresses in aikido. If note taking works for you, then it must be ok.

For me, the techniques are only different ways to explore the aikido principles, which are inherent in everything we do.

Perhaps I am inherently lazy...and just can't be bothered to put the work in to writing notes, when there is a pub to frequent and fluid replacement therapy calls.

regards,

Mark

Pauliina Lievonen
11-02-2011, 06:02 AM
People have different learning styles. If you learn best by moving, making notes might seem completely useless to you. That doesn't mean it's useless to someone whose learning style is different!

kvaak
Pauliina

Carsten Möllering
11-02-2011, 07:36 AM
People have different learning styles.
Yes. I agree.

If you learn best by moving, ...
If aikido is about moving, sensing, feeling, how can it be learned at all in other ways than moving, sensing, feeling?
Or asked in another way: How can things from knowing them, understanding them with the mind, the brains become movement, feeling, body?

I know that there are different learning styles, but I don't understand how teaching the body can work through words?

grondahl
11-02-2011, 07:57 AM
Yes. I agree.

If aikido is about moving, sensing, feeling, how can it be learned at all in other ways than moving, sensing, feeling?
Or asked in another way: How can things from knowing them, understanding them with the mind, the brains become movement, feeling, body?

I know that there are different learning styles, but I don't understand how teaching the body can work through words?

Does your style of aikido have any named techniques at all? Are there for instance requirements for different kyu-grades that includes specific techniques?

Taking notes can help a student to create a structure to the material. Having a structure and a name for the different exercises/techniques can actually (in my experience) help the student focusing on the "substance" of the exercises.

grondahl
11-02-2011, 08:06 AM
If taking notes is bad because it´s not your teachers perspective, how damaging must it not be for a beginner to hang out on Aikiweb at large.

MM
11-02-2011, 08:44 AM
If aikido is about moving, sensing, feeling, how can it be learned at all in other ways than moving, sensing, feeling?
Or asked in another way: How can things from knowing them, understanding them with the mind, the brains become movement, feeling, body?

I know that there are different learning styles, but I don't understand how teaching the body can work through words?

Those are very good questions. But, to attempt to answer them, we have to break down aikido into parts.

First, the techniques. According to Koichi Tohei, when he went to a seminar, he had a few people show up who had just learned techniques from a book. And according to Tohei, they had done very well with no major problems. For techniques, from a purely physical perspective, one can learn from books and notes. This isn't to say that the finer details of techniques can be learned. That's where notes come in handy. There can be a multitude of very fine details to try to remember. Notes can help with that.

Now on to the internal aspect. It has to be taught specifically. No amount of books, notes, or videos will get you there. Even Ueshiba said something to the effect that you can't learn aiki from books. However, that doesn't mean notes are useless. Notes can jog the memory. They can help remember what the correct training was supposed to be.

You really aren't teaching the body through words. You are learning from a teacher, but no one ever remembers everything so notes help to keep the memory fresh or to bring that memory back when forgotten.

IMO, every teacher should encourage students to take notes. Doesn't mean every student should or be forced to, but each student should have that opportunity.

lbb
11-02-2011, 08:48 AM
If aikido is about moving, sensing, feeling, how can it be learned at all in other ways than moving, sensing, feeling?
Or asked in another way: How can things from knowing them, understanding them with the mind, the brains become movement, feeling, body?

I know that there are different learning styles, but I don't understand how teaching the body can work through words?

If you frame it in those terms, it can't. But that's not what's going on.

IMO you've got it backwards. What people are describing here is not moving from theoretical, word-based, cognitive understanding to a physical skill. It's using the medium of words to re-experience and reflect on a prior physical learning experience. It is a way of integrating learning and completing the learning process. It may be that it wouldn't work at all for you, but it does work for many people.

Hanna B
11-02-2011, 10:01 AM
I have a student, who used to take notes. When I got aware of that I asked him to show me what he was writing down.
When I read his notes I realized that he had written down how he had done the techniques. Not how I had shown them. Which was quite different.

Well, of course. The opposite - the student writing down what the teacher showed, although he could not perform it himself, would have surprised me immensely.

Hopefully somone who has been tranining for, say, two years realises that what he/she is scribbling down is his understanding, made from two years of experience, and that the understanding will change over time. In most cases the student will notice the mistakes sooner or later, say "uh-oh" and either make chances in his old notes or just discard them.

Had a guy who took copious notes. He was in a class where I assisted the Chief Instructor regularly. I remember the Chief Instructor fixing something in this student -- he tended to overdo a particular movement. So he told him to it vastly smaller. Which actually resulted in the guy still doing it too big, but much closer and he was more successful. He sat down and wrote it all down. I thought "Great!".

Years later I was in a class and watched this same guy telling a newer student the secret to doing this technique. He proceeded to demonstrate with the still too large movement but said "This is how I was shown by the Chief Instructor and this is what *really* works." I asked him about it and he insisted that it was exactly what he was shown and that it was correct because he had it *right here* in his notes.

Sure there are better and worse ways of using notes. This was apparently not one of the best. But my guess is hit guy's attitude towards progress would have been pretty much the same without the notes.

And I see habits on very experienced people that never seem to go away. I often wonder how many of those things were from corrections long ago that were misunderstood or overemphasized. Then I wonder about myself.

This I guess this something that will happen, notes or not.

Janet Rosen
11-02-2011, 10:26 AM
If aikido is about moving, sensing, feeling, how can it be learned at all in other ways than moving, sensing, feeling?
Or asked in another way: How can things from knowing them, understanding them with the mind, the brains become movement, feeling, body?

I know that there are different learning styles, but I don't understand how teaching the body can work through words?

For me, the way I learn weapons kata best is to
1. see it one piece at a time
2. do it one piece at a time
3. write it down one piece at a time ("step left, strike yokomen" - "rising block" etc)
4. go home and with the instruction sheet in front of me do the movements one at a time
5. don't try to learn more than three pieces at a time.
6. don't add in additional pieces of the kata until I have some fluidity in movement between the ones I've memorized

As you see I already have the language and understanding of what a yokomen or what I mean by a rising block is. When I was first beginning I would have to spell it out even more in detail.

For me the traditional, see and do, see and do, the whole kata start to finish each time, if it is more than 3 or 4 movements is utterly baffling.
Yes, it is true I have no talent for this and should never have started a martial art but here I am 15 years later still plugging away like a happy idiot.

Janet Rosen
11-02-2011, 10:31 AM
I would add that without notes I would never remember things when working at home like which foot and hand to match up, to start something with stepping left or right first, to step vs. slide, which foot to pivot on, or on internal exercises which things move together and which opposite, when to open and when to close....I don't understand how people hold those things in their mind/body withOUT some written reminder when they are early in the learning process.

phitruong
11-02-2011, 11:03 AM
not much of a note taker meself. i have a different method that i used. before i go to bed, i would sit and meditate where i will "replay" the various moves or things that i learned that day. if you watch the movie Kuro Obi, at the end, where it shown the guys, one at the time, in a darken room with light shining on him, does the kata (i liked the kata done by the gojuryu guy - akihito yagi). that is what i do. imagine myself in a darken room with light shine on me performing the moves and correcting as i see fit. then when i need to do the move(s), i just put my body where my mind's body was. used to drive my karate instructor nuts. he would show me kata after kata (i was kyu rank at the time), to the point he would show me dan ranked kata like kusanku, empi, jutte and so on. he said each of these kata would take dan level at least 6 months. i went through each of them in a few weeks. he asked me how i did that. i told him my approach. after that he shown me the nunchaku and tonfa kata instead. i believed he was hoping that i knocked myself in the head and stop bother him. :D

so when i meditated and went through the kata, i used to twitch my body to follow the moves. my wife asked why i twitched while meditating. i said i was doing the high level and sophisticated meditation technique: dyslexic meditation. :)

kewms
11-02-2011, 11:05 AM
For me the traditional, see and do, see and do, the whole kata start to finish each time, if it is more than 3 or 4 movements is utterly baffling.

I'm not sure how traditional that is... my two main teachers both have classical weapons training, and both teach kata a few moves at a time. (Depending on the class. They'll move more quickly with a class that already knows that particular kata.)

Katherine

Janet Rosen
11-02-2011, 11:08 AM
Phi, I learned to do the muscle twitch thing during the long months I was off the mat after ACL graft. I'd sit on a chair off the mat, watching class, and sort of "twitch along with sensei"; then when driving home or sitting and relaxing at home would do it again. It DOES help build "muscle memory."

not much of a note taker meself. i have a different method that i used. before i go to bed, i would sit and meditate where i will "replay" the various moves or things that i learned that day. if you watch the movie Kuro Obi, at the end, where it shown the guys, one at the time, in a darken room with light shining on him, does the kata (i liked the kata done by the gojuryu guy - akihito yagi). that is what i do. imagine myself in a darken room with light shine on me performing the moves and correcting as i see fit. then when i need to do the move(s), i just put my body where my mind's body was. used to drive my karate instructor nuts. he would show me kata after kata (i was kyu rank at the time), to the point he would show me dan ranked kata like kusanku, empi, jutte and so on. he said each of these kata would take dan level at least 6 months. i went through each of them in a few weeks. he asked me how i did that. i told him my approach. after that he shown me the nunchaku and tonfa kata instead. i believed he was hoping that i knocked myself in the head and stop bother him. :D

so when i meditated and went through the kata, i used to twitch my body to follow the moves. my wife asked why i twitched while meditating. i said i was doing the high level and sophisticated meditation technique: dyslexic meditation. :)

Janet Rosen
11-02-2011, 11:10 AM
I'm not sure how traditional that is... my two main teachers both have classical weapons training, and both teach kata a few moves at a time. (Depending on the class. They'll move more quickly with a class that already knows that particular kata.)

Katherine

Well, that's good to know. Sure seems to be "traditional" in many aikido dojos of the various flavors I've trained in.

hughrbeyer
11-02-2011, 11:59 AM
not much of a note taker meself. i have a different method that i used. before i go to bed, i would sit and meditate where i will "replay" the various moves or things that i learned that day.

There are good neurological reasons for this. When you watch somebody do something or when you visualize it in detail yourself, whole sections of the brain fire in the same pattern as if you were actually doing it yourself. So there's a real training benefit there.

Hanna B
11-02-2011, 12:13 PM
There are good neurological reasons for this. When you watch somebody do something or when you visualize it in detail yourself, whole sections of the brain fire in the same pattern as if you were actually doing it yourself. So there's a real training benefit there.

Yupps. There's research on this. Some sports coaches use it.

grondahl
11-02-2011, 04:23 PM
If you visualize it, it´s important that you visualize as realistic as possible.

My former whitewater slalom coach used to time his visualized runs and compare them to the real ones, the difference was usually just a couple of seconds. I have never been good at that kind of visualization, my times were not even close.

Janet Rosen
11-02-2011, 05:24 PM
If you visualize it, it´s important that you visualize as realistic as possible.

My former whitewater slalom coach used to time his visualized runs and compare them to the real ones, the difference was usually just a couple of seconds. I have never been good at that kind of visualization, my times were not even close.

Interesting exercise!

edshockley
11-02-2011, 06:19 PM
Notes, pictures, photos, arrows, shoe diagrams...I agree with everyone who has said that it isn't about the notation but rather the mental process of ruminating on instruction in order to record something. It is akin to an additional class.