View Full Version : No talking in class?

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Ta Kung
11-12-2002, 05:07 AM

I've got the impression that most of you out there are not allowed to talk during practise... In the dojo I practise at, we are allowed to talk. Of course, we are to keep the talking to a minimum and stick to the subject at hand.

What are your rules? Some seem not allowed to correct a newbie, but wait until sensei showes up.

Where I practise, the senior students always helps the newbies as much as possible, and only "waste" senseis time if the matter cannot be solved easily. Of course, sensei walks around and corrects those who needs it too. He doesn't just sit there and drink coffee.:D

Any thoughts?


11-12-2002, 05:34 AM
the only time we are not allowed to talk is during the 'bows' and when sensei is speaking/demonstrating.

at all other times we can talk... although, talking usually stops when sensei comes around to watch so people can make it appear that they are in the utmost state of concentration.

11-12-2002, 05:50 AM
Where I come from, we almost never talk. Even the teachers who are on the mat during the head Sensei's class time do not help (verbally) very much, unless asked. Sometimes the teacher will even loudly pronounce "Quiet" because someone has started talking. This style seems to me to make the structure of the class and the dojo more formal. You learn by seeing and trying to copy, instead of through your ears. This is quite hard for a lot of folks, coming from a very cereabral city (University town, most students are professors or grad students).

In my own dojo, I verbally correct quite a bit. I would like to do less so, but right now I have very new students who need a lot of help. As time goes on and they gain more experience, I would really like to do less in the way of verbal correction (the verbal part seems appropriate at this point) and more through visual/feeling. They are certainly not mutually exclusive, I just like the feeling of a quiet class, it feels "right" to me.

Ta Kung
11-12-2002, 06:28 AM
I practise in the "advanced" group, but most of us also attend the newbie group. In their group there is quite a bit more talking, since they seem to catch on quicker if we show AND tell them how to do the techinique. In the "advanced" group, there is little or no talking. I find it a bit strange not to verbaly help your partner, if he/she needs it...


11-12-2002, 09:16 AM
No talking in practice is a major rule in our dojo. Only the instructor in charge may talk and only if instructed one may talk back. Only the instructor can correct. The way it works the practice is intense and very focused.

11-12-2002, 11:19 AM
We don't have a specific "no talking" rule in our dojo. More senior students are expected to work with the more junior students and we are expected to help them. This includes talking to them. I learn much, much better when my partner says, "do 'x' to get my balance" instead of him keeping his mouth shut and watching me having apparent trouble with him. I don't mind if this comes from a junior to me either.

My sensei watches everyone train and if he sees that the senior student can not help he will then step in. Most of the time the senior is not "wrong", but they just don't know how to explain the technique the way our sensei does. When that happens I usually say with a smile, "do that." ;)

Also, I don't think this hurts the intensity of training. It helps as the junior seem to learn more quickly this way and they are pretty up to speed by the time we switch to the next technique.

11-12-2002, 02:09 PM
I donīt know, maybe if people talked less (or not at all), paid attention and practiced more...I love teaching kids, theyīre usually quiet, respectful and very attentive, and they progress at a faster pace than their adult counterparts. I think fighting through silent frustration is part of it, until we "get it". But thatīs what works for us.

11-12-2002, 02:19 PM
I think what matters is what works best for the particular sensei and the students in the class. We're not at all chit-chatty on the mat and everyone trains real hard. We also have enough dan ranks where this really does work well for us. (i.e. you're not getting "bad" advice) They want to train hard so they push us, but they also want us to learn to do the techniques correctly. We teach through ukemi as well, but sometimes what is being "taught" isn't conveyed very well non-verbally. That's when you need to say "hey, what am I doing wrong?" It's not like were talking about the weather or the events of the day.

11-12-2002, 05:25 PM
I hate talking in class! I am a poor college kid who has little money. If I wanted to talk, I would pay a therapist. Sorry, struck a vein. I by no means pretend to know everything, especially about aikido. But sometimes individual personalities in the dojo choose to be vocal about technique when they should not. With all due respect to those who have something relevant to say.

When I was in the military I trained in Iwama Ryu Aikido. It seems to me that there was less talk, and more technique. I prefer this method. I believe that you can only learn by getting dirty and sweaty. I don't think you can talk a technique to death. Of course we all need a good correcting, every once in a while.

peace and jokes.... and a lot of hard work. aj

11-12-2002, 05:37 PM
We talk when necessary... not how was your day, what are you doing later, etc.... I really don't understand the no talking PERIOD rule. If a word can wake you up and cut through the crap in understanding a move, why not talk ?

To all the dojos out there who NEVER talk, I have been in situations (while visiting a different dojo) where I didn't quiet get or didn't see a particular part of a move, and asked my partner something, and they just stare ! Helloooooo ! At least answer when a question is asked ...

11-12-2002, 06:28 PM
i'm very new to aikido. but i've found that trying to keep to no talking is the only way i can focus. once i start verbally trying to figure out something that is a physical movement it all goes wrong.

but my dojo doesn't strictly enforce this. In mixed level classes though, there is less talk and more concentration on the practice.

11-12-2002, 07:44 PM
In the Dojo I train, seniors are advised to help the juniors and the beginners. So usually, we have little time to practice ourselves. Usually after the instructor demonstrated the technique, I practice with a fellow senior or two, do a few movements, finished, and then proceed to help the juniors and the beginners.

There is no "no talking" rule in our dojo. Our dojo has that "family" feel. During sensei's instructions, we just pay attention of course, no talking or discussing. After our sensei has finished the demonstrating part, when each takes a partner or a team, each pair or each team is encourage to discuss the technique. It is important for each student to understand the essence or the principle instead of just doing the technique blindly as a form.

The seniors have to keep an eye out for every students that are having trouble. Sensei instructs when one is really stuck in a problem and seniors can't solve the problem. Seniors also have to keep the training environment safe, making sure that there will be no injuries, especially among the beginners.

11-12-2002, 10:12 PM
in our dojo we are allowed to talk during training, but kept to a minimum. we correct each other but we pay attention when our instructor correct or present the technique.

sometimes we also discussed the technique during training, but for further discusiion we usually wait until the class end and continue the discussion after class. This after class session is also important to me because we can analyze and discuss techniques in more depths. Our instructors also encourages us to ask any questions regarding aikido after training.

11-13-2002, 12:56 AM
No talking. It completely wastes Sensai's time and yours. Learn by watching, especially the movements of the feet.

11-13-2002, 04:31 AM
No talking

Man, we'd probably give you hives :D

Senior students (read that as anybody with more experience than you) are encouraged to help and talk. There is talking and help being given back and forth among people of equal or close to equal rank all the time too. If we are practicing munetsuki kotegeashi and the newbie doesn't know how to throw a punch we are expected to stop them and teach them, right then during class. We are expected to give all the little lessons about etiquette, ukemi, technique, dojo policy, etc whenever the subject comes up. For instance, if a new student comes late to class and just walks out onto the mat and sits down in line sensei won't say a word about it to him. Instead whoever is his training partner when we pair up is expected to let him know that if he has to show up late to sit quietly at the edge of the mat until sensei gestures for him to come out.

I guess what matters is that it works for us and what you do works for you. If I come to your place and you're all quiet I will be too and if you come to ours you can speak up :)


Ghost Fox
11-13-2002, 06:44 AM
The only time I talk in class is when I'm teaching a newbie (someone with less than a month of Aikido experience). Besides that if someone is not getting a technique I either: Have them take ukemi for the technique a couple of times (so that they can feel the waza) or I gently extend ki back into nage to guide there movements.

I also give my nage non-verbal clues like I gentle nod or shake of my head.

I'm personally a strong believers that a new student learns more by taking lots of ukemi.

Peace and Blessings

Ghost Fox
11-13-2002, 06:54 AM
...I love teaching kids, theyīre usually quiet, respectful and very attentive, and they progress at a faster pace than their adult counterparts.
Wow kids in Mexico sound great. I help teach the kids class in Brooklyn (In our dojo, a requirement of all Shodans and soon to be Shodans) and they're just the opposite. We currently have about eight instructors in the kids program, and besides myself and a couple of the other instructors (one is a professional teacher, the other a professional bouncer/ security director) the rest have a hard time controlling their class.

Ta Kung
11-13-2002, 07:12 AM
There sure are many views to this, as I expected. I, however, can not see the point in not talking when required/asked by a junior student.

Just watching and think you'll learn it, sounds like limiting the learning process to me. And why does talking/verbaly helping your partner waste senseis time? Isn't sensei there to help everyone learn? Isn't refusing to talk/help your partner forcing sensei to go there and therefore "waste his time"?

Human beeings have 5 senses, why not use as many of them as possible?


PS. No disrespect to those who have other opinions. I haven't tried this "no speaking/helping" apporoach. Maybe it's better than it sounds?

11-13-2002, 07:34 AM
Well I'd never learn anything if my partner couldn't talk to me to help me out. Taking ukemi, fun as it is doesn't help me learn a technique, and I often miss things when I just watch. It also helps when my partner actuall moves my hand or arm or whatever into the right place. I have to say I really hate it when someone starts talking to me about something unrelated, that is a waste of time.

11-13-2002, 10:24 AM
Diffin-san, Eng-san, and Cole san, your dojo's policy to be the same as mine.

Our sensei, let the the seniors teach the juniors or the beginners, verbally or otherwise, as a test on how much one has understood Aikido. He does this also to see the arrogance or ego that sometimes appear during senior-junior practice. This is taken into account wether or not one is ready to go on the next level/rank/grade.

Our sensei consider every senior, especially 3rd kyu and up, as assistant instructors. They have to act more maturely and be a role model to the juniors. They have to be more responsible for their techniques when practicing, being able to explain "why" not just just "how".

After all these years with my sensei, I have learned that learning through teaching is quite effective. One has to be able to teach others and accept teachings of others. This, though, requires quite a high level of maturity, humbleness, and respect for others; arrogance have no place here.

Everytime I teach, I see how my level of understanding is nothing. I realize that what I've learned is not ven the tip of the iceberg yet. The more I learn, the dumber I feel. The more I teach, the more I feel that I'm not qualified to teach. I teach classes in my sensei's absence, I do this because of my responsibility towards the Dojo, towards the students, towards my Sensei, towards my "family".

11-13-2002, 10:15 PM
I still maintain that student chattering during training is counter productive. Most of what we learn isn't verbally transmitted, and I have always found "talky" dojos more of a social club than real training. This is obviously what works for me, its not a universal standard.

I just think the dojo is one place to put our intellectual Western mind to rest and to learn using our other senses. Sight,sound, smell, touch need to be heightened.

Yak, yak, yak....the place for discussion is here, not in the dojo. I really think intellectualization of practice is unfortunate, and most questions students have should be short and to the point, directed at the teacher.

A yakky dojo is a cocktail party, not a training hall. Call me traditional, its a compliment.

11-14-2002, 09:42 AM
As I heard a friend playing defense (in front of me playing goalie) yell to our teammates playing hockey: "Hey! Talk to eachother out there! It's not an F*in' library!!!".

Dojo is not a library. If what you are talking about is not talking over sensei/sempai or if what you are talking about is strictly about AiKiDo, then there shouldn't be a problem.

If someone told be to shush, they'd be very inappropriate because I wouldn't think about talking during/over sensei/sempai and I would ask you how you liked Star Wars Episode 2 IMAX on the mat. I'd be asking you to come at me harder as uke. I'd be asking you how to grip better, I'd be asking you how to perform ukemi better, etc.

I'm all about good communication. I think I'd leave the philosophy off the mat though but I'd have no problem about communicating my needs to my uke when practicing or asking advice/better technique.

Talk to eachother, it's not an F*in' library out there, chief!

; ^ )

11-14-2002, 10:33 AM
I meant to say in the last post that I would NOT be talking about movies...


11-14-2002, 10:46 AM
It's all about different dojos being different. Some dojos are really into doing lots of breakfalls and convincing themselves that they know how to do powerful technique; other dojos make their aikido as movement-free as possible and convince themselves that they know how to really feel the other persons balance and energy. Some dojos teach through discussion; others teach without discussion.

The interesting question is not which dojo is better but how you can learn to see the advantages and disadvantages of each approach and each dojo. In my experience, talk-y dojos tend to make beginners (and possibly also women ... ?) more comfortable. On the other hand, non-talk-y dojos tend (paradoxically?) to communicate more clearly the ideas of respect and humility that are, to my mind, part of budo. It's not that a talky dojo can't teach respet or that a non-talky dojo can't be welcoming, I'm just reporting the tendency I've seen in my limited experience.

mike lee
11-14-2002, 11:43 AM
A friend of mine told me that he once visited a small dojo in Japan. He said six older black belts shuffled into the room and didn't say a word — they just smiled, bowed, and began practicing seated waza. They continued to smile.

Next they did standing waza.

Although all of the gentlemen were 4 dan or above, they only practiced basic waza, that is waza for beginners, and waza for 5, 4, and 3 kyu-level students. They kept smiling and somtimes laughed out loud, but still, they never said a word.

At the end of practice, they wiped some of the sweat off of their foreheads, streightened up their gi, and bowed. Then they smiled to one another and shuffled off of the tatami.

My friend said he smiled, and left the dojo.


11-14-2002, 12:23 PM

Then they smiled to one another and shuffled off of the tatami.My friend said he smiled, and left the dojo.

And then they all probably went for noodles and saki and stayed up until 3:00 AM talking about karate-do, who is training where, how the old days were, improvements on technique, where the dojo is headed, and the history of the art.

Talking is very good, but a time and a place.

11-14-2002, 01:14 PM
As an example of where I think explanation and discussion of technique or principles fit into training I offer an experience I had.

One day while training in a certain technique that we'd trained for years (don't we all), sensei explained it the same way as he had many many times before. However, because I'd gone through hours upon hours of this technique, I was finally able to really understand what he was saying. A light went on as we always say. I imagine that the same thing he always says will be even more understood by me in the future.

My point is that talking only works if there's lots and lots of training going on. A person has to be ready for understanding and the only way to do that is by training hard consistently for life. So I say, train hard and try to keep talking down as much as possible.

11-14-2002, 01:33 PM
When people say they allow talking on the mat they are not saying they allow chattering or chit chat on the mat. Those are two different things in my book. Talking is a part of communication, and sometimes when a partner is going too fast or too rough something needs to be said or there will be injury. I have no clue how to convey this "non-verbally". If someone is getting frustrated with a technique because thier uke is "teaching through ukemi" but does not believe in talking, if the uke who is "teaching through ukemi" knows what the other is doing wrong, they should speak up. The nage in this situation should also feel free to say "what do I need to do?", they shouldn't feel like they have no right to speak up because they are talking to a senior student. Also, what if the senior student doesn't realize that the junior is having a problem? A restriction to no talking at all means the senior keeps doing the same old thing and the junior just gets frustrated. Neither party learns anything. The senior loses the opportunity to teach and enhance their understanding of aikido, and the junior loses the opportunity to learn to do that technique on that particular person.

I'm sorry but I think learning by taking ukemi and by teaching through ukemi takes established skills. Why spend one hour or a week trying to figure out the right angle on a partner when the partner can take one second and tell them where that angle is?

Sorry but I just don't get the "No talking at all rule". I can see the point of a silent class or two as a learning experience. I can see where some people over teach, but you can easily tell them "let me figure it out on my own." I can understand saying too much and being too helpful where it totally overwhelms a beginner. I can totally understand no chit-chat (i.e. non-relevant conversation). I totally understand not talking over sensei -- completely disrespectful.

I guess I don't see how all off aikido can be conveyed non-verbally. Not everyone is a kinesthetic learner, some need oral instructions as well.

Don't get me wrong. A lot of training goes at the dojo where I train. There is a lot of hard physical practice as well -- enough to force this person into getting herself in better shape to keep up. A lot of learning and understanding of aikido takes place. But sometimes, a beginner needs to be helped out or a more senior person needs to be told to ease off a bit. I do see though that once people reach a higher level less talking needs to happen, but talking, real verbal communication, still needs to be allowed to explain more complicated techniques and concepts.

But I agree you won't get "it" unless you practice it physically. It's not like we all stand around reading Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere to each other.

11-14-2002, 01:38 PM
Sorry, that was really long and not edited really well... it was more of ramble. But my point is that sometimes verbal communication is necessary and I just don't understand absolutely barring it in class.

11-14-2002, 02:05 PM
As Anne Marie alludes to above, talking can clarify, but it can't replace physical training.

Some people whom I've encountered would rather train silently and work on the techniques themselves rather than receiving unwanted "clarifications." Very, very often, I'm one of those.

Of course communication is important in aikido, just as it is in any endeavor; if it weren't I doubt I would have created these Forums! But, I personally don't think it's paramount in one's growth in the art -- especially after a bit of time in the art.

-- Jun

11-14-2002, 02:21 PM
In our school the rule of no talking (that includes other noises such as grunting or shouting) is about respect. Respect to O Sensei watching us from the kamiza, respect for the instructors and their teachings, respect to the discipline (this is budo, not aerobics), respect to our practice partners and to our visitors. If someone has a problem with the technique, the instructor will adress it, whether itīs a 3rd dan or a 5th kyu. However during a half hour break between evening classes there is a free practice session and people are allowed to practice whatever technique they want (strictly aikido of course) and talk and discuss about it, so we are not mute after all. If I visited a dojo where talking during class is allowed, I might say a few words, but probably I would be quiet. If someone visit us, regardless of style and affiliation, we expect him/her to practice by our rules. Finally Iīve been to Hombu Dojo and the I.A.F. congress (2000) and I donīt remember anybody talking...during class.

11-14-2002, 02:29 PM
I personally think talking in class works as fertilizer for 5th-kuy-shihans.

11-14-2002, 03:13 PM
I guess I don't see how all off aikido can be conveyed non-verbally. Not everyone is a kinesthetic learner, some need oral instructions as well.
Yeah. That's a strength of Aikido, it's a kinesthetic, visual, and oral training method.

In that sense communication is enhanced by talking.

overdone, it's can get as boring as being forced to sit and watch without participating (feeling). Visual people get a lot of out of watching, but imagine if training would be 90% watching..

then you have these other completely no talking classes which are great for the "feelers", but leave the "audio" people out.


rabmle on..

11-14-2002, 03:23 PM
Sometimes I talk while practicing and sometimes I don't. I've been known to carry on a conversation while being thrown and talk about anything while I'm at it. Other times I'd rather not say a word.

I've been struck neither by lightning nor enlightenment whichever way I went about it.

11-14-2002, 03:28 PM
Well, a 5th kyu shihan is easily tempered by every higher ranking person he or she trains with. If the 5th kyu person is one of the higher ranks (i.e. you're a small school or just started the dojo) then I can see that as a problem.

All in all, I'd rather just train too. but sometimes even the unwanted comments help me out. They also tell me that someone knows, sees, or feels something that I don't understand.

Even if it is a 5th kyu shihan who is noticing that I really am not getting his balance. I let go of my need to just train, and figure out how to take his balance. Or just train a little harder so he can feel it more as I tend to go "too easy" with beginners. I may not have realized he can take more, and all of a sudden I have good training partner I can work with. Eventually we end up sharing what works best for one another and we just end up training.

But some one else on another thread mentioned talking on the mat is like--"okay, that doesn't work, do this, no not quite a little more, oh yeah, that's it." A 5th kyu shihan can be ignored while you just up the ante a little bit within thier level. An over exeberuant partner "teaching" can simply asked to "let me just figure it out."

Ignacio, what you describes makes sense, because you have time inbetween classes to discuss the techniques, and work out any problems.

11-14-2002, 05:10 PM
Anne Marie Giri,

Your point is correct and totally justified as is most of the ones in this thread. I think that 99% of the people in the world of Aikido would agree that 0% talking is a bad thing. Constructive dialog between people is a standard way of learning and many many people need this.

I think we'd all agree that the verbal part of Aikido is much more important when starting out. However, I think that most of that should come from the sempai to the kohai as explanations go. As we progress through aikido, we learn how to learn by listening to our bodies, energies, and our ukes without so much dialog. Thus, the further you go, the less talking there is, though what is usually there is more profound.

Not talking about chit chat here btw.

11-14-2002, 07:04 PM
Brandon, I think your right that the more advanced we get the less we need to talk. I'm starting to see this even at 3rd kyu, at least with the techniques I'm most familiar with.

11-14-2002, 07:44 PM
I think that 99% of the people in the world of Aikido would agree that 0% talking is a bad thing.I certainly can not agree with that statement. That is, I can't agree that this is what 99% of the people would say, nor is it something that I myself would say.

11-15-2002, 01:43 PM
talking about training: good

asking sensei question: good

Candy: good

interrupting sensei: BAD

Fire: bad!

talking about non-aikido crap during training: offense punishable by all-day nikkyo "lesson" :D