View Full Version : Poll: How often do you verbally correct your training partner in aikido?

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11-10-2002, 01:01 AM
AikiWeb Poll for the week of November 10, 2002:

How often do you verbally correct your training partner in aikido?

I don't do aikido
Almost always
Very often
Somewhat often
Almost never

Here are the current results (http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=139).

11-10-2002, 10:02 AM
In my dojo we are told not to talk or keep it to an absolute minimum. We focus on training. The sensei observes everyone eventually and giving help is always better coming from someone who is much more experienced. I will only mention something if what they are doing is absolutely incorrect or they have just begun Aikido and have no idea what to do.

11-10-2002, 10:15 AM
I struggle to correct as little as possible. Sometimes it is difficult: beginners have expectations and people get frustrated when they don't know why something isn't working.

I try to make sure that any verbal corrections I am unable to avoid do not interrupt the flow of training. This means that I keep my comments quite brief (often a word or two does wonders), and simple enough that they can be heard and processed while we are both moving. I try to make it very easy to ignore whatever comment I make, if my partner is not interested or has their own agenda. Nothing I have to say could be so vitally important that it should be forced on the my partner.

11-10-2002, 10:29 AM
In my school is strictly forbidden to speak during class, only instructors can make a verbal correction.

11-10-2002, 11:32 AM
in my dojo we dont correct each other, at least try not to, even if the partner is doing something totally wrong (unless he really doesnt know what's going on), and in this case we try by guiding him rather than words. with real begginers (less than 1 or 2 months), we do it, though not too much. If someone asks, that's another story.

Hanna B
11-10-2002, 03:02 PM
I would be very interested in a new version of this poll, asking for how many times during an average 90 minutes class one verbally corrects one's partner. "Seldom" can mean a lot of things.

11-10-2002, 04:20 PM
I was verbally being corrected (wronged) excessively the other night.

Furthermore it was by a person who barley ever attends class, where as I do every night, and come early and stay late.

This student insited on not cooperating unless I did it their way. I got upset and said this is the way Sensi taught me and this is the way I am going to do it. Then they procedeed to work with me.

It caused me to get upset.

Conciqently after being corrected too many times by him, I couldent take it anymore and asked to be excussed.

I have never left early before because of frustration, but I relly hate being corrected when I am not wrong.

I think I am going to ask master about this one.

Deb Fisher
11-10-2002, 04:55 PM
A couple yudansha where I train are very good at non-verbal correction. I do the technique, then they do the technique slowly with great emphasis and control on one part. Then I try, and the next time either some smaller nuance gets emphasized or whatever.

Very cool - it's very much a conversation, and it's using the part of my brain that actually learns the technique. As a very verbal person, I get really caught up in my verbal mind when I get verbal correction - this is bad, it puts me away from my body.

So, since it's bad for me to talk and train, I try not to correct anyone unless they ask or seem really frustrated.

Hanna B
11-10-2002, 05:24 PM
Had a few of those experiences too. What is great about non-verbal correction is one does not have to listen if one is not ready for this specific piece of advice, and nobody looses face.

11-10-2002, 06:44 PM
In our dojo we have a fixed senior line and a rotating junior line. The senior student is expected to help the junior understand what is happening, help with the technique and keep the training rythme. Sometimes that requires more verbal, sometimes less. Sometimes the senior speaks too much, sometimes too little. It's a learning experience for both.

Bruce Baker
11-10-2002, 08:13 PM
Most of the time, I refer to what we are doing in English, for a couple of reasons.

One is that repeating a word without the thought is like yelling at someone in a foreign language expecting them to magically understand because your voice is louder.

As far as correction, we merely repeat the technique once, then let the instructor continue correction.

What seems to work the best is the testing sheets with the techniques to be learned where the student can write remarks about what the technique is in their own thoughts.

As for me, I do it in practice a long long time before I can pronounce it in Japanese or remember the Japanese term for what ever we are practicing that day.

I do find that new students respond to thinking of the practice in English when they speak English, even if they are being instructed with Japanese terminology.

Must be some kind of thought process that allows the mind to function within the physical practice while assimulating the language ... all I know is that I would rather have the physical practice before the language so they don't get out of control and crank too hard during practice.

Words never seem to increase or decrease the level of safety in physical practice, especially in naming the technique to be practiced.

Maybe Aikido is a fancy game of Simon Sez?

11-10-2002, 09:03 PM
At our dojo talking is kept to a minimum, but there is nothing unusual about people giving quiet verbal advice during training. I find this practice very useful - everybody, including the other white belts, seems to have something to say that I can learn from.

11-10-2002, 10:49 PM
It looks like more people responded "seldom"--I would be curious to know how often people get corrected verbally by people other than the sensei. I like to think I keep the verbiage to a minimum (i.e., seldom) but suspect a lot more slips out than I intend.

11-10-2002, 11:18 PM
A couple yudansha where I train are very good at non-verbal correction. I do the technique, then they do the technique slowly with great emphasis and control on one part. Then I try, and the next time either some smaller nuance gets emphasized or whatever.I've always had my doubts about this particular approach. There are a lot of reasons to keep the talking down, but one of the chief ones for me is to keep me focused on my own learning and to guard against the tendency to cheat myself and others by focusing on their learning instead of mine. I feel like what you describe, Deb, runs the risk of crossing that line.

On the other hand, often times a mistake made by someone I'm training with will cause me to think about my own behavior in that particular aspect of the technique. Sometimes, that will bring my focus to that aspect, highlighting things both for me and my partner.

11-11-2002, 02:23 AM
Since a large proportion of the people I work with every practice session are first-day or third-day beginners, I answered 'somewhat often' to the poll question. Most of them are just too confused to function by simply observing - and 1) I am too impatient to stand waiting for 10 minutes while somebody's trying and failing to break my arm 2) there is no point in practicing if they don't learn anything at all and just feel frustrated.

On the other hand, there's some more senior people in our dojo who just talk, talk and talk (read, correct, correct and correct) when you're practicing with them. That IS tiring, even if some of their comments may be helpful sometimes.

In any case, in all except the simplest cases, I only understand things when I _experience_ them, not when I am told about them.

11-11-2002, 02:39 AM
Our dojo has no hard and fast rules on talking, obviously standing around chatting instead of training is frowned upon... but talking is accepted. Generally if you are the higher grade of the two practicing and the other is making an obvious mistake in technique then some people will correct them.

When I teach a classes I quite like to see begginers explaining things verbally to each other. Teaching is one of the best ways of learning something or getting it set in your mind as you have to break it into small understandable chunks and internalise it yourself.

I still can't see why it would be necissary to train in silence. I may try it with my class some time.. I think it would be interesting to watch them communicate without words.

Another reason I like to allow people conversation is because I often use it to distract people in the middle of technique. Not to make them do it wrong, but instead because they are over analysing and when I can get them to do it whilst thinking of something else they tend to do it spot on.

But anyway...

11-11-2002, 06:44 AM
I used to hate 'corrections' from people, often that were not listening to what the sensei was saying. However, having quite a new club, I've found it invaluable for my longer term students to offer advice to the others. I think the level of advice should be fluid. However in order to advise someone you must be:

1. confident this is what the sensei is trying to transmit

2. confident that the person being advised is not understanding what to do (and it isn't just a stylistic interpretation or limitation of their body)

3. not overwhelm the person you are advising with information (sometimes advice exceeds practise - which negates any use of the advice).

This could be summarised by only advising when you are sure you can help them, and not to show off how good you are.

Incidently after or during training with a partner I usually prompt them to tell me how it felt - without feedback, how can we know how well it is working?


11-11-2002, 10:24 AM
I teach once a week. Once a month I have a 'silent class.' During the silent class neither I nor any of the students speak. I find it a great alternative and a real eye-opener for me and the students. There's a lot to be said for appropriately given corrections and a lot to be noticed (but not said?) about how much more people can notice if they put the words aside.

11-11-2002, 03:35 PM
I answered 'somewhat often' because, as a college course, we have 'newbies' quite often.

With our regulars, I try to keep a quiet class but I realllly tend to get over analytical after class. This gets even worse around people's testing time.

I also find that many people like to talk a whole lot more when sensei can not attend class. I feel that not speaking during class is a good thing. I've also noticed that sensei leans more toward doing than explaining to learn, though if pressed, will explain quite well.

I think that explanation only works if you've put the time into finding out the questions by practice. A person can ask, "How do you do X-Waza?" but if they've never tried to do X-Waza then no amount of explanation will make the "light go on".

11-11-2002, 04:18 PM
In our schools we encourage partners to communicate with each other what they feel, and if they can help, please do. People look at techniques very differently and sometimes someone can say something that will make all the sense in the world to someone not "getting it".

I do work hard to keep the ubiquitous windbags under control. And all conversations should be about the technique or principle at hand. You will often hear me say, "Less talk, more train." But being a little more open to verbal communication allows me as an instructor to see what is really frustrating my students. Knowing this helps me be a better instructor.

But, Opher, I really like the idea of a silent class. I may have to kick it around with my other instructors!

11-11-2002, 08:08 PM
Who said "always"?!?!

Hopefully those are all the shihans..


11-11-2002, 11:06 PM
I don't speak Chinese, and they don't speak english.. we just do the "monkey see, monkey do" thing.


Josh Mason
11-13-2002, 09:44 PM
I started practicing Aikido in a college health course, and after being there a few weeks I was invited to the actual dojo to be a student. There is a white belt there with some crude Aikido skill (he's a corrections officer) who acts like he's some kind of Master. He really knows no more than I do, or anyone else but he tries to correct everyone like he's Sensei. It's starting to become really annoying. He's an 8 week white belt trying to be Shodan. You gotta crawl before you can walk...

11-14-2002, 02:00 AM
Most of my verbal suggestions to my partner takes the form of: "If you crank my arm a bit tighter and push my elbow up you will probably get more leverage" or "if you bring my wrist to your center... (ow, ow) yes thats it! (*smack* into the mat)"

Does anyone else do this giving verbal feedback about your body thing or is it just me?

Fiona D
11-14-2002, 03:56 AM
"Does anyone else do this giving verbal feedback about your body thing or is it just me?"

All the time! I find it really useful as a rule, either if I give this feedback to my nage, or my uke gives it to me. Sometimes the difference between getting the leverage right and wrong can be too small to see easily, so that kind of verbal feedback is great. Especially if the nage is aiming for some kind of lock, when you get: 'Not quite, not quite....twist a little more clockwise....bring the elbow a little higher....a bit more....YES![taptaptap]'

11-14-2002, 07:55 AM
I think one of the reasons that talking is discouraged in class is for the very reason that Wynad notes above; that of a beginner instructing another beginner.

mike lee
11-14-2002, 12:12 PM
In our dojo we have a fixed senior line and a rotating junior line. The senior student is expected to help the junior understand what is happening, help with the technique and keep the training rythme. Sometimes that requires more verbal, sometimes less. Sometimes the senior speaks too much, sometimes too little. It's a learning experience for both

That's exactly what I wanted to say, but you saved me the time and trouble of forming the words. This method of practice is especially useful if you have a large batch of beginners (20 or more) coming in periodically.

Nevertheless, I like to throw the higher-ranked students a bone and let them practice together at the end of each training session (about 30 minutes).

I also publicly thank the higher-ranked students for helping to teach the new students, lest good deeds go unapprecieated.

Also, I often demonstrate techniques using a beginner so that the higher-ranked students will see how to practice with a new student. (It's not about showing off right?)

There's a lot of talking, but it saves me an awful lot of trouble, and I'm quite amazed at how quickly everybody learns. It also gives the higher-ranked students a sense of value and gives them the opportunity to learn by teaching.

11-16-2002, 10:10 AM
I see the majority is leaning toward "seldom" - it would be interesting to know how many times people think they are getting corrected, for comparison.

I don't like correcting because I want to think about my own practice, not theirs. Unless it is my job for the class, which seldom happens

Ta Kung
11-16-2002, 11:53 AM
I don't like correcting because I want to think about my own practice, not theirs.

A bit too ego, I think. And besides, if someone had a great tip for you (who was more senior etc), wouldn't you like to hear it? And how much does it really distract you from your own training? A few seconds, tops.


11-27-2002, 09:44 AM
At the Aikido Center of Tainan they do talk quite abit. a very chinese way in that although the teacher gets a lot of respect (often called superman in english cuz he is 68 years old running circles around the young guys).. Even as a white belt though I have been asked, "do you feel pain or presure" or "hai tong ma?" . I don't speak enough chinese to speak a lot, so I simple say yes or no. :)



Ron Tisdale
11-27-2002, 10:49 AM
Hi Barbara,

I tend to agree with you; unless I have been told it is my duty for the class to correct a partner, it does interupt my training to do so. I'm in kind of a wierd place right now regarding responsibility most of the time, so its not as simple as it used to be. But I think for most students, if you are training, you are not teaching. I know the 7th dan where I got my first kyu used to be pretty strict about that.

Actually, if both shite and uke pay close attention during practise, it is possible to pick up a lot from each other without talking at all. I try to focus on my partner in such a way as to lead a jr student through the technique as I understand it, and to follow a sr. student through the technique in the same way. No words are really necessary if I use the correct focus and intent.

Of course, different strokes for different folks, and different instructors might prefer a different method. I certainly wouldn't blame ego for your method.

Ron Tisdale