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akiy
12-19-2002, 10:07 AM
Hi everyone,

One interesting question that I've been chewing on is how to teach someone to learn how to learn aikido. I very much believe that pretty much most, if not all, of us can teach people, but it seems to be a much deeper task to teach someone to learn how to learn aikido.

Basically, I think there's a difference between learning something and learning how to learn something and was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on how to teach someone to learn how to learn aikido.

For example, I've seen folks who seem to have the desire to learn aikido but, for one reason or other, just don't seem to get "it." I've seen folks who seem to be all too keen on getting it "now -- and right now!" A lot of people seem to either want to just get to the end of a technique no matter what -- kind of like skimming through a mystery novel to see "whodunit" without enjoying (nor understanding) the meat of the book. There are others like the "I have 12 years of experience in Foobarbaz-do so I slip back into that mode a lot" folks, the "Geez, I make so many honkin' mistakes every time I move that I can't even get through the tenkan exercise without beating myself up over it," folks, the "I've been doing aikido for ten years so I'll just keep doing the same things over and over and over and over and over" folks, and many others.

The above were just examples, of course. I'm sure people can come up with many other types.

My thoughts seem to come back to the topic of "awarness" in all of these cases, but that could just be me.

What sort of tips would you give to someone who just began their aikido training if they asked, "What approach should I take in learning aikido?" Or someone who has had six months of training but is getting frustrated? Any concrete exercises or thoughts that you can give to people like this?

-- Jun

Creature_of_the_id
12-19-2002, 10:17 AM
I think when learning, asking the question "why?" is very useful.

If I ask myself and understand why I do something I am more likely to remember it in the future and apply it.

if a student watches an instructor do an irimi movement, they tend to see the instructor just move forward.

When they understand "why" he moves forward then they are likely to also see the distance that is covered and how close to the uke the instructor is.

When we watch or learn things we filter the information into a frame of reference that we have, based on our own limited experience.

asking 'why', instead of taking it for granted, removes our assumptions and allows the student to build on the new information.

so... I guess that was the long way of saying, if I wanted to teach someone to learn how to learn aikido I would recomend they questioned each part of the movements and understand why their funtion.

paw
12-19-2002, 10:37 AM
Jun,

Reading your post, my first thought was "why is this a learning issue and not an instructional one"?

Curious,

Paul

akiy
12-19-2002, 10:50 AM
Hi Paul,

That's an interesting point.

What I often see is a disconnect between the student's learning process and the teacher's presentation -- not in the material covered, perhaps, but in the manner of learning.

I think the student has to have the responsibility for learning as I think the relationship of student/teacher isn't just a one-way street. However, I also think that, often times, students are going about learning in an inefficient manner.

Just like we can develop good study habits for college courses (ie rather than skimming the five chapters for organic chemistry while attending the game at the stadium but studying the chapters in a quiet environment), I think there are ways to improve a student's learning process in aikido -- kind of like trying to maximize the potential to learn for students.

I'm not too sure if I'm communicating the above too well. Does that make sense?

Thanks,

-- Jun

opherdonchin
12-19-2002, 11:42 AM
I have two thoughts on this, Jun.

The first is the importance of having respect for the amount of time it takes to learn some things. Everyone understands that it takes a few years to learn how to play the violin at even a passable level and a few years to learn to 'do' AiKiDo. People tend to have less appreciation for the amount of time it takes to learn some more cognitive skills. Calculus takes time to 'sink in' for many people and nothing substitutes for the time and practice they need. Learning to learn and watch AiKiDo also seems to me to take time, just like learning the AiKiDo itself.

The other thought I had was that, just as we teach the AiKiDo primarily by example, I strive to teach the learning-to-learn primarily by example. By being open about my own learning process, the things I'm thinking about and wondering about, the things I'm paying attention to, I hope that I communicate my own process of learning. Some students may find that a helpful model although, of course, others will go their own way.

Kat.C
12-19-2002, 01:01 PM
I agree completely that you have to learn how to learn aikido, my first few months were that much more confusing because I didn't do that. I'm not a teacher but if I was going to pass on tips to anyone else I'd mention these things that I've learned, which help me to learn how to do the techniques properly.
The most important and the most basic is to really listen to sensei partly because if I hadn't listened to sensei then I would never have learnt any of these things which help me. Also when he demonstrates a technique he will often explain how and why we do certain things eg.'cut in front of you because...' or 'keep their elbow up so that...'. I would be lost if I didn't listen to his verbal explanations. I've had to learn to not just imitate sensei's movements but to use those movements to unbalance uke and take their centre.I'm learning how to feel uke's center, to know when I have taken it and to know if I've kept it for the duration of the technique. I need to feel a connection between us, to feel if uke is going down because of what I've done or because sensei has shown us how and when uke is supposed to fall. To feel if I've lost that connection and then to understand why.
I've also learned to pay very close attention when sensei demonstrates a technique on me, in understanding what uke should feel I can more easily make them feel it. Anyways just some things that have helped me immeasurably.

paw
12-19-2002, 01:34 PM
Jun,
I'm not too sure if I'm communicating the above too well. Does that make sense?

Well, not really.
I think the student has to have the responsibility for learning as I think the relationship of student/teacher isn't just a one-way street. However, I also think that, often times, students are going about learning in an inefficient manner.

Could you give an example of an "inefficient learning manner"?

Regards,

Paul

akiy
12-19-2002, 02:37 PM
Could you give an example of an "inefficient learning manner"?
I gave a few examples in my original post up above...

Here's another example. Say you run into someone who spends his time trying to just get to the end of the technique regardless of the integrity of his posture during the execution. He muscles, totters, and nearly falls over you as he throws you in iriminage.

Rather than just saying something like, "Hey, you're muscling through the technique and not keeping your balance" to him, what sort of "higher" level teaching (a meta-teaching, perhaps?) can you point out to help him realize these things on his own?

For me at least, it comes down to awareness and being able to come back to a centered place. In other words, I personally feel as though this ability to recognize such things in myself helps me learn.

I guess another way I can put it is: how would you, as a teacher, create an environment in which the learning process is most efficient and/or effective? What sort of things would you tell your students to develop a sort of philosophy of training?

Did that make more sense? If not, can others who understands what I'm talking about (and I hope this makes sense to some!) help out?

-- Jun

paw
12-19-2002, 03:21 PM
Jun,
I guess another way I can put it is: how would you, as a teacher, create an environment in which the learning process is most efficient and/or effective? What sort of things would you tell your students to develop a sort of philosophy of training?

Teach them to flow in a dynamic environment.

Scott Sonnon on "Flow" (http://mma.tv/TUF/DisplayMessages.cfm?TID=937&P=6&FID=41)

Regards,

Paul

Erik
12-19-2002, 03:49 PM
Teach them to flow in a dynamic environment.

Scott Sonnon on "Flow" (http://mma.tv/TUF/DisplayMessages.cfm?TID=937&P=6&FID=41)
Paul, I'm nearly speechless. It's beautiful!

Reinforcing technical-dependency for confidence-development requires placing trust in an intangible "concept" hoping that it will somehow bring competency. We've become martial idolaters, worshipping at the throne of the sacred Technique, praying that it will bestow upon us competency, wisdom, and autonomy. It will not. It cannot. How many times have we heard the question, "What style has better techniques?" We hear this said, and yet we all KNOW intuitively that it is not this elusive, ephemeral concept of a "technique" that lends victory, but our own natural capabilities. Where would we be as a culture, if each person KNEW this? Just imagine if no one was conditioned to be not-talented (for we are all naturally talented with our own "unique genius.") How many times have we seen "Free-thinkers" (the "Gifted") who come to class, listen attentively to the instructor, and then during dynamic drills, they explore, improvise, innovate? It's fulfilling to be creative. They enjoy themselves quite a bit, doesn't they? It would be amazing if the entire class was full of "natural talent," wouldn't it? Well, it is.

and...

We should tell them to go. Go play. Go work. Go explore. You are your own authority. This is the greatest service we could do... and so many coaches are terrified to do it. I know I still am. I know I still get the willies and think "Am I no longer needed?" We're always needed, just not for that. We are NOT needed to think for them. We are needed to keep providing the reinforcement and environment conducive to maintaining independence.

Col.Clink
12-19-2002, 05:04 PM
Hi everyone,

One interesting question that I've been chewing on is how to teach someone to learn how to learn aikido. I very much believe that pretty much most, if not all, of us can teach people, but it seems to be a much deeper task to teach someone to learn how to learn aikido.

Basically, I think there's a difference between learning something and learning how to learn something and was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on how to teach someone to learn how to learn aikido.

-- Jun
Hi Jun,

an interesting topic, and I think we all have different approaches in not just teaching Aikido, but teaching how to LEARN Aikido.

I never thought about it until your question, and we actually (or I) do teach how to learn Aikido, in my own little way i guess. I'll try to make it brief, as I tend to go all over the place in long posts.

When people enter the Dojo, I have noticed they have some sort of preconceived idea what it is going to be like, and unless they have already heard or read something on Aikido, they are either overjoyed with their first experience, or very dissapointed. Some think it is going to be like Karate, others think Tai Chi, and some have abosolutely no idea!!

But, to the point of teaching how to learn, I think it comes down to the basics, depending on what each Sensei considers basics.

If a student can go home at the end of class and say " I learned something today", wether it be a technique, movement, or even something philsophical, then we are succeeding in showing them how to learn, because they have got passed the "how the heck do I learn to do that!!" stage, and ARE learning. If a student cannot grasp the idea how to learn Aikido (now that can be anything from Tai Sabaki to Ukemi) it is up to the teacher to find another way to help them, So long as the student WANTS to learn mind you.

When a student or newcomer say's "how do I learn to learn Aikido", my answer would be "We'll teach you". I think it's all about helping them to understand themselves, and my reward is seeing them do something they thought they could not do. I think in this day and age, we need to explain things more to people in order for them to understand.

I was teaching a student to do Munetsuki Kotegaeshi, when he said " but I would'nt hit someone in the stomach like this so why am I doing this".

I then put a knife in his hand, and told him to do the same thing. His reaction was quite different, he realized I wasn't just teaching one technique but how to move from several techniques, also showing him the Shomenuchi variation. My whole point was to help him with his movement, at the time he did not realise this, it took a little longer to get him to understand, but for the next 3 weeks all he wanted to learn was Munetsuki Kotegaeshi!! His movement now is much better too!!

;)

I think I've rattled on enough, I did say brief!! I hope you see what I am getting at about how we teach to learn....I think I do:confused:

cheers

rob

Kat.C
12-19-2002, 06:18 PM
Here's another example. Say you run into someone who spends his time trying to just get to the end of the technique regardless of the integrity of his posture during the execution. He muscles, totters, and nearly falls over you as he throws you in iriminage.

Rather than just saying something like, "Hey, you're muscling through the technique and not keeping your balance" to him, what sort of "higher" level teaching (a meta-teaching, perhaps?) can you point out to help him realize these things on his own?

-- Jun
Wouldn't just some basic paired exercises in balance breaking and ones for checking posture help such a person to become aware of the problems they are having when executing techniques? One of my karate senseis had us do some balance breaking exercises which allowed you to feel not only how little effort and movement is required to unbalance someone else but how easy it was for someone to unbalance you. We did them in various stances and would do them with and without lowering our centers and vary which partner lowered their center and sometimes both did, sometimes neither. These exercises made me very conscious of my posture and balance during techniques back then, and now in aikido.

akiy
12-19-2002, 06:33 PM
Wouldn't just some basic paired exercises in balance breaking and ones for checking posture help such a person to become aware of the problems they are having when executing techniques?
Sure, but that was just one example. What sort of teaching and/or thoughts can we provide to the student to allow him to realize himself that he's making these kinds of mistakes so he can try to fix it himself?

Thanks for the link, Paul. I haven't had a chance to read what was contained there, but I will...

-- Jun

opherdonchin
12-19-2002, 08:27 PM
I wonder if what Ki society (and, to a lesser extent Seidokan) do with 'Ki exercises' partially speaks to what you are talking about.

Seidokan takes as one of its basic tenets the principle of Gogo-no-shugyo (training after insight/understanding). This means that part of the training is to learn how to explain techniques and ways to think about them. I don't know whether I think this does or doesn't work. It probably works for some people better and for others less well. Still, it would be something for you to check out, Jun.

YEME
12-19-2002, 09:19 PM
i've started several new activities over the last six months and the common thread is :

its not just going to learn..its being ready to.

All it takes is one 'click' type moment for it to become easy and understandable. Sometimes its something the instructor says/does...sometimes its watching another student. There are days when everything is understandable and clear. Others where people are there in body only. Literally there for activity rather than practice.

While trying to figure out how to learn, I've come to the conclusion that its a personal thing - much like the brick wall thread. Maybe sometimes we just don't know its there.

The wall/the stubborness or even fear.

IMHO.

PeterR
12-19-2002, 10:06 PM
I must say I really don't understand the question.

An environment is created to teach in this case Aikido and the student adapts to it. The more sucessfully they adapt the more easily they learn what's being taught. I guess the adaptation is the learning to learn.

We have a lot of paired exercises (as per Kat's post) and the dogma is that it is through their practice that your Aikido improves. This does not address learning to learn but in the five classes I've had with my new group most of the time is spent getting the basic exercies up to speed. I've actually only had them practicing 8 techniques in all that time.

Paula Lydon
12-19-2002, 10:42 PM
Hi Jun,

~~In ukemi class, we practiced the basics of taking ukemi by nage presenting us with a structure, a framework. We weren't told to take 'air' ukemi--just throwing ourselves around the mat. Well, I think that in order to learn how to learn Aikido the student must be presented with a consistant, stable, clear framework from their sensei and seniors. These are the principles, these are the fundamentals, this is how it works, this is why that didn't work.

~~I think it's ultimately time-consuming, ambiguous and frustrating to simply demonstrate something a couple of times and then cut people loose to flounder about as best they can when you've given them no understandable framework. Structure isn't negative; there is still plenty of room for self-exploration and self-discovery, perhaps more so since you have a sound foundation to reach out from.

~~Just my thoughts on an interesting topic.;)

akiy
12-20-2002, 03:25 PM
Hi Peter,
An environment is created to teach in this case Aikido and the student adapts to it. The more sucessfully they adapt the more easily they learn what's being taught. I guess the adaptation is the learning to learn.
Perhaps, but I'm not completely convinced at this point. Maybe the "sink or swim" method in aikido works some of the time, but I think there ought to be a better way.

I don't like using analogies, but what would you think, say, if such were the approach in your daughter's elementary school? In other words, what sort of environment does the teacher create for the students to learn? What kind of "study habits" do they instill for the students to learn well?

In the same way as one can learn better "study habits" in college (ie not just skimming the chapters on organic chemistry while attending the football game in winter but, rather, going through the material in a me), I wonder if there "training habits" that one can cultivate in students to help them along better?

Thanks for all of the thoughts, folks. As people here have said, this just might be a personal matter in that it may differ from individual to individual. But, it's still something I'm chewing on...

-- Jun

shadow
12-20-2002, 10:43 PM
Jun,

the best piece of advice i ever read came from a book by koichi tohei sensei and that was to approach every class as if you are intending to teach it to someone else. this has helped me i feel "learn to learn" because when something is told or shown to me i try to understand it not just for myself but for any other person i want to show it to.

im not sure if this is what you are looking for, but if i have to give credit for any one piece of advice ive ever had for my training and understanding methods it would be this.

mike lee
12-21-2002, 06:35 AM
Traditionally in Asia, those who studied any art, began with meditation. They were serious students. But it seems that these days, even in Asia, such a concept is being lost.

Stopping all those neurons in the brain from firing every which-way and getting them to focus on the task at hand seems to be the quickest way to learn a complex skill. But people, these days, don't even have the patience to sit down for five minutes and clear their mind. These self-centered individuals want instant gratification; they want "instant aikido," but they don't want to do their homework. They don't want to follow instructions and suggestions because they "don't have the time." And when they get frustrated, they cry, they complain, they blame the teacher, they blame their classmates, and they even blame themselves, but they still don't do anything about it because they're insincere and they're lazy.

In the end, Darwin was right — the fittest do survive; and the wannabes, sooner or later, just fade away. Good riddance, I say. The sooner the better. Such individuals just waste everybody's time. And time is the single most precious commodity in the world.

SeiserL
12-21-2002, 10:19 AM
Yes, IMHO, many people miss the initial "learning how to learn" stage and still try to learn Aikido with a non-Aikido learning strategy. IMHO, get a map that matches the territory. The model is implied congruently in the training and the Waza. It starts with relax, breathe, and enjoy yourself.

Until again,

Lynn

PeterR
12-21-2002, 10:44 AM
Hi Jun

Not talking about the sink or swim - but I am away from home, a little drunk, and I must fight tomorrow. Maybe I can give a better response on Monday - when I have my own keyboard.

At Shodokan we have a very structured environment and I must say the dojo produces some seriously gifted aikidoists. The ones who adapt to the system do extremely well. Others, like myself, do less so. This is what I meant. If you adapt to the system you are learning to learn. It really is independent of the particular system of learning although I will say tat certain personallities are more in tune with one form or other.

Jimro
12-21-2002, 06:20 PM
If someone is concerned about getting to the end of the technique so much that they are off balance, muscling and otherwise not doing aikido: SLOW DOWN!

If slowing down doesn't help and the individual is still muscling, off balance, etc. Have a senior student be uke, and let that senior student totally screw him/her up.

If I totally botch a technique I expect my Uke to stop me and help me correct it. When something doesn't feel right, usually something is wrong.

Help each other learn. I've told my partners often, "We're doing something wrong, but I don't know what, let's ask sensei."

Iriminage isn't called the 20 year throw for nothing.

opherdonchin
12-22-2002, 06:55 PM
I'm becoming interested in the flip side of this question. That is, can any of us point to experiences that really helped us 'learn how to learn' aikido? That may be a better guide than our somewhat blind stabs at it as teachers, and more useful than just saying 'we all pick it up sooner or later' (even if that's true).

For instance, I really remember my teacher once telling me (and I've repeated it any number of times since): "In life, we tend to hurry through those times when we are uncomfortable. We often do that in AiKiDo techniques as well. However, it is precisely the part of the technique that we are least comfortable with where it there is the most to learn by slowing down and understanding exactly what is happening."

TR6
12-23-2002, 10:28 AM
I've been taking Aikido for about two months now and I have less than 20 hours of training, so I think I can bring a beginner's perspective to this discussion.

For me, Learning How to Learn is always my first goal. In school, I failed all subjects while teaching myself SDL (Self-Directed Learning) and reading many different advanced subjects on my own even if I could not understand them. By the 10th grade, I had become an entirely independent learner and I suddenly started to get straight A's even though I failed all classes in the previous 9 grades. This was due to SDL. SDL has helped me learn 7 programming languages and many subjects with no instruction. SDL is independent learning without a teacher or instructor (and it's equivalent to RTFM if anyone knows what that means hehe).

So far, I think SDL's effectiveness is very limited in Aikido due to the need for a highly-experienced practictioner from which to learn. Beginners can Learn How to Learn Aikido by watching and listening very carefully for subtle similarities, patterns, and larger ideas that are being taught, but this is not self-directed learning, it is only the familiarization and intellectualization of concepts.

So far I've only used SDL in Aikido to teach myself (at home) the Aikido philosophy and how to count in Japanese, but I must hear the teacher in order to learn how to actually pronounce the words as well as the application of the philosophy. Sooner or later, I may even use SDL to teach myself the Japanese words that are used throughout Aikido. I can forsee limited other uses for SDL in Aikido, at least not for my next decade of training.

So far, in Learning How to Learn Aikido, I've learned the following strategies:

-Watch a few classes while you're a beginner. I injured myself in my third hour of training (strained stomach muscle) so I had to watch Aikido classes for the next 6 weeks. The senior students told me that they were amazed by how much I learned by watching for 6 weeks.

-Early on, find out who the most senior students are and learn primarily from them and the instructor. Also work with them in class as often as possible early on.

-If you get confused, first focus on learning the foot movements. (Sensei explained this.)

-Early on, you cannot do a movement quickly and learn very much from it. You're more likely to get hurt or to hurt someone else. (Sensei explained this.)

-Remember to relax your body and mind or you will not learn anything and, again, you'll hurt yourself or somebody else. (Sensei explained this.)

-Read the Dojo newsletters and speak to the instructor and senior students as often as possible. This will help you to easily realize large concepts that are very difficult to realize on your own. (Don't speak to them during class though! I learned that the hard way! hehehe.)

-DO NOT EVER ask a non-senior student for help learning. If they offer their advice, acknowledge it but do not trust it. Also, DO NOT EVER teach others how to do a move until you're a senior student. Ask sensei or a senior student instead.

-Participate outside of class. I fail to see how one's service to the Dojo is separate from one's training. Yes, you can learn Aikido by vacuuming under the mats. For example, I learned that it's easier to vacuum from your center than with your arm.

My theories may be wrong, but I hope this helps with your discussion.

Choku Tsuki
12-23-2002, 03:06 PM
What sort of teaching and/or thoughts can we provide to the student to allow him to realize himself that he's making these kinds of mistakes so he can try to fix it himself?
Thoughts are good if they instead lead to an appropriate example to provide.

So, they rush through a technique to get to the end and they're a little off balance. Balance and center have to be maintained throughout is the thought. Impart that by being uke and grab their sleeve underneath and hang on after the throw. They will learn 'why' faster by discovering for themselves. Maybe they'll also see why lowering their center is good too. How they store this info is up to them.

I could have just said "Show them the consequences" of mistakes. Nothing more immediate than cause/effect.

--Chuck

Peter Goldsbury
12-24-2002, 05:56 AM
One analogy with learning aikido which strikes me ever more forcefully each time I think about it is learning a foreign language, especially a language like Japanese, where the grammar is relatively simple, usage is very difficult and the writing system is positively diabolical.

The analogy holds in this respect, that both are complex skills of which the aim is production, effortlessly and without any 'meta-thinking'. There is no point in learning a living foreign language unless you can deploy the skills immediately in meaningful written or spoken communication with native speakers. The analogy fails in one respect: there are no 'native speakers' of aikido (except perhaps for the Founder and his successors?) but I think everyone has an image of what he/she is working towards, usually embodied in a high-ranking shihan.

I think with language learning there is definitely a stage where learning how to learn becomes vital, but not at the very beginning. At the beginning you need to acquire a knowledge of the basic structures of the language and the process of doing this is different from the later stage, where you have acquired a mental map and are in a position to direct your own progress to some extent. Learning kanji, for example, definitely requires a learning method: it will not do to approach kanji as one would Latin verbs.

Language learning, of course, has all the joys and frustrations of aikido. There are the times when native speakers are oblivious of the fact that you are a foreigner: in aikido this is perhaps like throwing your instructor and he/she accepts this as nothing unusual. Then there are times when you have just uttered the 'perfect' sentence and everyone nods politely, not having the slightest clue of what you are talking about: in aikido the instrctor comes and looks at your technique and cannot even figure out what you are doing, let alone trying to do.

It takes time to progress from learning to learning how to learn and different learners might conceive the details of this latter stage differently. For me a crucial component of learning how to learn was to develop a mental map of all the core movements and techniques, against which I could 'read off' the different ways of executing these, as learned over the years from a large number of instructors.

This process, of course, is still at the SHU stage of SHU-HA-RI.

Best regards,

PhilJ
12-28-2002, 01:47 AM
I'm becoming interested in the flip side of this question. That is, can any of us point to experiences that really helped us 'learn how to learn' aikido?
Great point, Opher. I absolutely have to come out and take ukemi for you now, I'm convinced. :)

There are two significant situations I can think of, right off, for me: 1) times when something had profound impact, and 2) times when my frustration gave way to relaxation.

I don't have a guess at a formula for making a "profound impact", but I'd wager the formula involves relative values of the student experiencing the training. Interests, hobbies, occupations all fall there: if you strike a chord in those areas, it helps the student obtain a useful, relative perspective. I'm sure there's more. :)

The frustration piece is rougher and requires a patient sensei. To bring a calm realization out of frustration borne from tough technique or "inability" to grasp a concept, I think that makes a big mark in the noggin. It reminds me of a little bit of Phil-Zen, where we ask "How many different ways are there to get to our dojo?" Same question for teaching or dealing with an attack. A diligent instructor will keep trying different ways until something in the student clicks.

The student will often need great help to break past the brick wall s/he's created, but even the Great Wall could be climbed over, or altogether walked around, eh?

*Phil

opherdonchin
12-28-2002, 08:48 PM
2) times when my frustration gave way to relaxation.I'd say, also, that this played (plays) a big role in my own learning and seems to play a role in the learning of people I work with. As a teacher, it's very hard to tell how much 'frustration' is good for a student. I mean, I don't always have control over that, but I often wonder if my uke is too frustrating or difficult for people.

Oh, and thanks for the compliment. Our dojo is very welcoming if you ever get down to Baltimore, but there are plenty of people there who are much more inspiring to uke for than I am.

Jim Saba
08-09-2004, 10:15 AM
Good Day ,

This is a good question.Dr. Drysdale and I have had this conversation in the past. You have the right idea, it is the ability to learn how to learn.

People learn in different ways. Some people learn by seeing. Others learn by feeling. Still, others learn by listening. I think that ultimately it is a combination of all three really;. although, some people do seem to have a predisposition to one or the other. People also have a predisposition to how well they learn technical information as apposed to just memorizing information.

I have heard some people claim that in order to learn a complex technical task, the frequencies are some where around 5000 times . I did some checking on this from a friend of mine who knows a bit about the research in this area, and he said that he did not know of any substantial data that support this hypothesis.

In reality , there probably is no magic number as that hypothesis suggests.

Probably the best approach is to try to teach at the level that your given for a particular group. The truth is you have to give a little to get a little.

In my classes, the majority of the time, I do not teach to a wide audience. Most, if not all of them , are composed of first year aikido students, so I am teaching pretty much to a one dimensional audience. Depending on the audience of course, I try to give something for everyone to ponder.I also try to make sure that environment is a relaxed one. I like for people to feel comfortable in class. I don't like instructors who talk at their audience. I also don't like those people who give off an air that says that their presents is so important that you should be glad that they decided to show up that day.

My main goal is to try to reach people on a personnel level, and I hope that they can take something out of my class that they can use in their daily lives in some way.


There are certain concerns to consider. One of them is can I hold people's attention long enough to get the point across. Another one is can I keep things interesting so that people will not get bored. Third, are people being motivated significantly to improve over the long term. And forth, is the information accurate and does it have validity

Thanks

J Saba

Pauliina Lievonen
08-09-2004, 01:09 PM
Hi everyone,
first time to post here. I'm a music (recorder & traverso aka baroque flute) and Alexander technique (see: stat.org.uk) teacher, so this discussion on teaching caught my eye.
I occasionally lead an aikido class as well. Just took my ikkyu test couple of months ago.

As I see it there are a few different things you need to learn to learn in an aikido class, some more critical than others. For instance, you need to learn how to watch a demonstration of a technique and to make enough sense of it to be able to practice _something_. I tell people to first watch the footwork, and if they can't remember the whole technique, to try and remember the first movement and to practice that first. Plus when people start to see the patterns of basic tai sabaki (irimi, tenkan etc. ) and how the techniques consist of combinations of those, that helps with remembering the techniques as well. I think people pick up this kind of strategies from each other and the more senior students, too.

As to making people more aware of what they are doing, which I think is critical to really improving, I don't think there's anything as effective as direct feedback. "Can you feel that you're tensing your arm as you turn? Try again. Yep, still doing it. Once more. That was different, did you notice?" It takes time in the beginning, but after a while people start to observe themselves more carefully and then it's easier.

I think it's also important to get people to really stop and take time and slow down to give themselves a chance to see and feel and taste and hear what is going on. I think a short simple meditation in the beginning of class helps with that. Sometimes, when someone keeps doing the same mistake over and over again, I ask them to stop completely and to make a clear decision about what they are going to do next. That almost always helps.

As you can see, I'm not fond of indirect methods of teaching. :)

The most difficult thing I find, probably because I'm not that experienced yet, is how to show people what a technique really means. I find people tend to skip parts of techniques and to forget important details, or put themselves in a dangerous position relative to uke for example, and I think it's because they are doing technique on a surface level without understanding what they are doing. Or sometimes even caring... Still I think it's the same story: direct feedback, and getting people to be aware of uke's balance and their own and the relationship between the two etc.

well, my two eurocents worth, off to the park to train now (dojo is closed in August)

kvaak
Pauliina

Lyle Laizure
08-10-2004, 01:23 AM
Teaching someone how to learn? That is an interesting way of looking at it. Everyone learns, generally speaking, in the same manner. The difference between one or another is they way they receive the message. Sometimes when one is teaching it has to be explained from several angles so that everyone within the dojo can be touched.

philipsmith
08-10-2004, 03:21 AM
Teaching someone how to learn? That is an interesting way of looking at it. Everyone learns, generally speaking, in the same manner. The difference between one or another is they way they receive the message. Sometimes when one is teaching it has to be explained from several angles so that everyone within the dojo can be touched.


Actually this isnt true. As both an Aikido and professional teacher (college lecturer) I know that people will learn in different ways.

The three basics learning styles are:

auditory by listening
visual by seeing
kinesthetic by doing.

Most sports people (including Aikidoka) learn kinesthetically with elements of the other styles being thrown in. The problem is that traditionally Aikido is taught purely by demonstration.
I believe that as teachers it is our duty to enable students to acquire skill and devewlop rather than just "showing & telling" as I see so many Aikido teachers (and a lot of Shihan) do.

My advice look at other sports coaches, do a basic teaching/coaching qualification and try to think out of the AIkido box.

Lan Powers
08-11-2004, 11:33 PM
Interesting that this topic has risen from the archives. A while back a partner of mine in training as well as close friend and myself discussed this issue and posted along these lines .
Our comment/ or question was does your Sensei teach "just Aikido" or does he effectively teach "how to learn" as well.

Neat
At the time, neither of us had ever seen this thread, and it is very interesting to catch all these posts.

It seems to me that learning to learn is almost an indescribable thing. I am VERY visually oriented, but in class, I often learn more by closing my eyes and feeling the flow. (After making sure of safety )

Modeling an instructor is how I seem to catch on best. Lots depends on how well he can convey his own learning process.
Just my two centavos
Lan

David Kelly
09-21-2004, 05:08 AM
If we take a logical approach to this question, we have to look at how we take in information and how we interpret it.
We use the five senses to take in information to our brain, sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing.
We can eliminate two of this senses smell and taste because we don't use them in learning Aikido.
So that leaves us with sight, touch and hearing.
Generally people favour one of these senses, but still are using all three to interpret the information.
Sight - Watch and learn, Touch -- Do and learn, hear -- Listen and learn.
The problem comes when interpreting the senses information.
You can get several people to watch a particular technique being executed, and you will get different interpretations of what went on.
Why is this? I believe that there are several reasons for this
1. Preference, People look to find there own preferences in the technique (judgemental).
2. Limited understanding
3. Some people are generally not observant.

So to teach people how to learn, we have to work on the senses, find there favoured sense and find what preferences that have when doing technique, (hard, strong, soft, flowing, sharp etc.) i.e. understand there interpretation of the technique and use this to guide them build there understanding, observation and maybe given them additional or other preferences that they can work on.

Measure your ability. This can be difficult you need a goal(s) (an ideal) that can be used to measure yourself against i.e. I want to be like my sensei or I want to be soft, flowing etc this gives motivation.

I believe people learn faster doing simple exercises to achieve there goals, created exercise that complement there preferred sense and preferences also try to build up there lesser senses.

SUMMARY
Have a goal, find which sense you prefer, develop exercises around that preference and sense.
Be patient and have fun. :)

David Kelly
09-21-2004, 05:14 AM
If we take a logical approach to this question, we have to look at how we take in information and how we interpret it.
We use the five senses to take in information to our brain, sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing.
We can eliminate two of this senses smell and taste because we don’t use them in learning Aikido.
So that leaves us with sight, touch and hearing.
Generally people favour one of these senses, but still are using all three to interpret the information.
Sight - Watch and learn, Touch – Do and learn, hear – Listen and learn.
The problem comes when interpreting the senses information.
You can get several people to watch a particular technique being executed, and you will get different interpretations of what went on.
Why is this? I believe that there are several reasons for this
1. Preference, People look to find there own preferences in the technique (judgemental).
2. Limited understanding
3. Some people are generally not observant.

So to teach people how to learn, we have to work on the senses, find there favoured sense and find what preferences that have when doing technique, (hard, strong, soft, flowing, sharp etc.) i.e. understand there interpretation of the technique and use this to guide them build there understanding, observation and maybe given them additional or other preferences that they can work on.

Measure your ability. This can be difficult you need a goal(s) (an ideal) that can be used to measure yourself against i.e. I want to be like my sensei or I want to be soft, flowing etc this gives motivation.

I believe people learn faster doing simple exercises to achieve there goals, created exercise that complement there preferred sense and preferences also try to build up there lesser senses.

SUMMARY
Have a goal, find which sense you prefer, develop exercises around that preference and sense.
Be patient and have fun. :)

SeiserL
09-21-2004, 09:22 AM
Have a goal, find which sense you prefer, develop exercises around that preference and sense.
Be patient and have fun. :)

David,

Your answer implies some knowledge of NLP. I would agree that the mind receives information from the sense.

IMHO, having been an auditory learning (trying to spell phonetic phonetically), I would tend not to go with the preferred lead sensory representation systems. Unless you intend to eventually pace and lead.

The auditory track is very slow, but many people initially need to talk themselves through the technique. But the body doesn't speech language.

Eventually, learning is the old style of see-do, without verbiage.

In the end, its just do, kinesthetic, body and energy feeling.

David Kelly
09-21-2004, 10:24 AM
SeiserL :Your answer implies some knowledge of NLP.
No I have heard of NLP but no real knowledge of it!

SeiserL: IMHO, having been an auditory learning (trying to spell phonetic phonetically), I would tend not to go with the preferred lead sensory representation systems. Unless you intend to eventually pace and lead.

I bow to your superior knowledge in this subject

SeiserL : In the end, its just do, kinesthetic, body and energy feeling.

I totally agree with this, but to get to this we need to use all means necessary to achieve this.
i.e. use all sensory input to achieve the goal.

Is it your opinion is to lead with ‘kinesthetic' and use auditory and visual secondary?
Which order do you suggest is more beneficial? :)

Pauliina Lievonen
09-21-2004, 11:55 AM
What bothers me about the oh so oft repeated threesome of visual, kinesthetic, auditory is, it seems to me to be just the first step in learning, the receiving of information. How people actually process that information and make it their own seems to me to be different.

I would hope that the end goal isn't learning how to learn from somebody else, but learning how to go about discovering things for yourself. Learning a methodology for experimentation if that makes any sense.

I've talked with some musician/music teacher friends about teaching and while no one mentioned "learning how to learn" several people talked about "learning how to practise" as the most important thing you could teach your students...

kvaak
Pauliina

SeiserL
09-22-2004, 04:26 PM
Is it your opinion is to lead with ‘kinesthetic' and use auditory and visual secondary?
Which order do you suggest is more beneficial?

IMHO, I tend lead with the most preferred sensory representational system. Its pretty common in our society to be very visual, but a lot of people like to talk their way through initially. There are a few natural athletes who process kinesthetic first, but usually have a rough time academically. Learning to quiet the internal dialog and stay externally visual can help responsiveness. Eventually, the external visual stimulus can just triggered the trained kinesthetic behavioral response, or technique.

I understand that practice is learning, so I tend not to make too big of a distinction here.

jonreading
09-23-2004, 03:08 PM
Jun,

I am very analytical by nature, so this question crossed my mind when I began helping new students a couple of years ago. To me, you are essentially presenting the biblical (new testament) parable of the teacher. "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime."

I personally feel that you advance in aikido by learning how to improve on your own through self-criticism.

I actually created a short bullet list of components that lead to successful techniques. I then descirbe my thought process when I am learning technique to new students. Obviously, the list has changed over the years, and will continue to change as I train. I think that instructors have many challenges to face and I try to let sempai burden the resonsibility of teaching students how to learn.

fatebass21
12-31-2004, 01:50 PM
I read somewhere that only one in every ten people somewhat interested in Aikido actually continue practing.

aikidoc
12-31-2004, 02:32 PM
I try to focus all my teaching on learning how to learn-i.e., I try to give my students the skills to steal techniques from everyone. Although I've never really sat down and said here's what I should be doing, I think the following are somehwhat used by me regularly.
1. Extremely heavy focus on kihon and tai sabaki movements.
2. Multi-sensory approach-as the NLP informed people have pointed out I tend to vak it (visual, auditory, kinesthetic). Visual: multiple demonstrations at different angles and different speeds), Auditory-I talk to damn much but I talk my way through the technique and discuss what I'm feeling and how I'm doing things. Kinesthetic-I frequently go around the room and demonstrate the technique on everyone. I also implore them to get feedback from their ukes and ask: how does it feel compared to the way it feels when sensei does it?
3. I am also very big on the use of "shaping". I don't let people build a strong neurological trace memory by repeatedly doing things wrong over and over. I correct early and often and then give positive feedback when it is done right. Sometimes the correction is one on one or if a predominant problem among the group I will show the problem to the group. I like to do it incorrectly and then correctly and ask them to pick out what is different or what I'm doing wrong.
4. Another ploy I like to use is to ask the class to come up with a way of doing a certain technique (usually advanced) off a certain attack. I want them to think and apply kihon and tai sabaki.
5. I also periodically use a sequence of tai sabaki, kihon, henka, and oyo waza. I do this even with beginners. Interestingly, it seems to make their tai sabaki and kihon better when I have them do henka or oyo waza.

Bronson
12-31-2004, 03:15 PM
We've played a game where I put technique names in one hat, attacks in another, and modifiers (tenkan, irimi, etc) in a third. The students get in groups pull one from each hat then go and try to make what they've drawn from the hats. Then they teach it to the rest of us :) I don't care if they come up with a viable technique...sometimes the answer is it just won't work...it's the process of trying to figure it out that's important.

Bronson

Don_Modesto
12-31-2004, 05:26 PM
...it's the process of trying to figure it out that's important.

Yes. Some of the most productive training I've experienced has been in classes where I had to take up the slack for a teacher who presented a technique in an unworkable fashion.

justinm
01-04-2005, 07:33 AM
3. I am also very big on the use of "shaping". I don't let people build a strong neurological trace memory by repeatedly doing things wrong over and over. I correct early and often and then give positive feedback when it is done right. Sometimes the correction is one on one or if a predominant problem among the group I will show the problem to the group. I like to do it incorrectly and then correctly and ask them to pick out what is different or what I'm doing wrong.
John, this reminded me of a couple of things. When I restarted learning French, the teacher would never let us get away with errors. She ALWAYS corrected mistakes so that we never got into any bad habits. IIRC she said that she did not want us to ever hear the incorrect word or pronunciation without it being corrected.

I also recall during a Coaching Course that our trainer told us never to demontrate how to do it wrong, even if you said "this is wrong", because it does make an impression in the brain even it you do not want it to.

Since then I've tried to modify my teaching by never deliberately doing someing incorrectly, even if it is to show what people are doing wrong.

I do not know if this is good practice, but it seems to make sense to me at a superficial level (and I've not gone any deeper).

Has anyone else any input on this idea of NEVER deliberately showing the wrong way to do something, even if it is to say "don't do it this way"

Justin

Charles Hill
01-04-2005, 08:56 AM
Has anyone else any input on this idea of NEVER deliberately showing the wrong way to do something, even if it is to say "don't do it this way"

Hi Justin,

I think that showing the wrong way is a method for people to become conscious of what they are doing wrong. I agree that showing the wrong way is bad if the student(s) are not already doing that particular wrong way. But by showing them visually what they are doing wrong, this can be valuable.

I think the idea of not letting a student or yourself make any mistakes from the beginning is a good one, but I also have the thought that making mistakes and later correcting them is a valuable skill that translates well to real life.

This question reminds of a time when I was visiting a dojo with an uchideshi type program. The teacher was demonstrating a technique with the uchideshi and told the class not to attack in a certain way as the attacker would be open to a punch. The teacher then made the uchideshi attack in that wrong way and then actually punched her, pretty hard. I'm not sure what the uchideshi was supposed to learn from that!

Charles

aikidoc
01-04-2005, 11:55 AM
Since then I've tried to modify my teaching by never deliberately doing someing incorrectly, even if it is to show what people are doing wrong.
Justin

Justin. I try to show people what they are doing wrong in the following fashion. I let them practice a short time and if I notice a common problem I will stop them. I then perform the technique two ways: 1. The common way I see them doing it-here is what I'm seeing. 2. The way I demonstrated it initially (correct way)-here's what I showed you. I then ask them what was different or what did they notice about how I was doing it versus how they were doing it? It makes them think and observe. I find this helps correct the problem without focusing on the way it was being done wrong but rather on what they were doing versus what was showed.

I like your language comment. To me learning a language involves learning the vocabular and then syntax-construction of the language. Learning aikido is the same-learning the basics and then learning how to put them together in a pattern of movement consistently.

justinm
01-05-2005, 04:01 AM
Thanks John - that makes sense to me, and I think it avoids what I percieve as the problem, although it is an indistinct line that I will probably continue to stay well away from until I feel more confident as a teacher.

I think it was Goldsbury Sensei that initially made the comparison with learning a language. A more common analogy I hear is learning to play an instrument, although I like the language analogy particularly. What stands out in both to me is the need for sound basics, and that these basics do not loose their importance and 'truth' just because you become fluent.

Justin

aikidoc
01-05-2005, 09:13 AM
I agree on the basics Justin. I usually show tai sabaki first and have them practice that and then we move to the technique. When is show the differences between what is being shown and what is being performed I emphasize the correct tai sabaki. I often use something similar to shadow boxing. I have everyone perform the technique without anyone attacking them. We do this several times on both sides. Then we move to attack. It helps but it seems when someone is attacking parts of it fall apart :). Then we have to work on correcting the problems.

MaryKaye
01-05-2005, 10:17 AM
We worked on kata tori nikyo last Monday with a fairly junior instructor. I was failing almost every time to throw him: what I was doing looked good to me, but it didn't move him at all.

We traded places, and he said "Here is how your nikyo feels to me." It was a revelation: he managed to show me physically what it felt like if nage was not attached to uke's center. Of course I wasn't throwing him: he wasn't throwing me either, doing that. And then he switched to doing it right....

So for me, I think there' s a lot of value in being shown how something is done wrong, if I was already doing it wrong. I agree with the comment that "Here's a common way this can be done wrong" is not a wise teaching technique unless the students in front of you are doing it here and now.

Mary Kaye

aikidoc
01-05-2005, 12:26 PM
I agree showing common errors if no one is doing them would seem to be a waste of time. Showing how the technique feels can be valuable feedback. I also find it is a nice way to show nages deliberately hurting you what their technique feels like. I have used that before to tell them that this is what your technique feels like and if you don't like the feel as I don't then you might want to let up. :D

Ed Stansfield
01-08-2005, 12:08 PM
We worked on kata tori nikyo last Monday with a fairly junior instructor. I was failing almost every time to throw him: what I was doing looked good to me, but it didn't move him at all.

We traded places, and he said "Here is how your nikyo feels to me." It was a revelation: he managed to show me physically what it felt like if nage was not attached to uke's center. Of course I wasn't throwing him: he wasn't throwing me either, doing that. And then he switched to doing it right....

So for me, I think there' s a lot of value in being shown how something is done wrong, if I was already doing it wrong. I agree with the comment that "Here's a common way this can be done wrong" is not a wise teaching technique unless the students in front of you are doing it here and now.

Mary Kaye

As a student, I think that this is one of most useful teaching methods for me. I think that sometimes my teachers credit me too much with being able to understand my mistakes just by seeing/feeling things done "the right way". My teacher will say "No, like this" and I'll say "So hang on, what am I doing?" I think it's probably most useful when you're looking at the feeling behind a technique rather than, say, the locations of hands and feet.

Then again, it could just be that I'm dense.

Going back to the "don't demonstrate the wrong way" point, from a ki style perspective, the ki excercises / tests would almost always be demonstrated "right way" and "wrong way", relaxed and tensed for example. The whys and wherefores of that could probably be a whole other thread but the idea would be that in demonstration there's a clear visual indication of why it's the wrong way eg. the person falls over.

So again, I think it's a useful teaching device. Where it fits into the "learning how to learn" debate may be another matter . . .


Best,

Ed

Alvin H. Nagasawa
01-09-2005, 02:18 AM
Re: Learning, How to Learn Aikido

It is a interesting topic up for discussion, One which is the responsibility of the individual teaching the class. I have read all the posting on this subject, and the range of Personality, Professional level, MA background, everyone having there individual prospective on the subject. This is what a Instructor has to deal with in teaching any form of MA. Especially to a beginner entering your class, I would always ask the student why are you interested in Aikido?. Have you previous MA background?. I first ask them to observe the class and then make up there minds if the wish to join the Club. "Enter the dojo with and empty cup", Not a filled one.

Once the are a member of the club, they must understand the dojo rule,etiquette,and etc.
And have a qualified assistant to coach the beginner on the exercises, how to tumble is the most difficult obstacle for a beginner to over come in Aikido.. Before he or she can participate in the regular class, is important safety factor. A injured student will miss or sit out several months of class if they get injured. And it is the responsibility of the instructor to insure that everyone under his direction is training safely and understand what is taught in the class. Before moving on to another technique or waza, It is important that the lowest Kyu rank or Beginner understand and can execute, what was taught. And to have a one to one contact with all the students, to feel the flow, and execution of the technique. And not to hurt the student in the process, You have to remember."We, all we beginners once ". I hope you wish to be treated with same respect and have that individual continue his journey in Aikido."Respect others and they will respect you in return". Compassion, is a learning process and I am still seeking that path. One has to look at one's self before judging others.

The above is my opinion. I can say this in closing, each situation is different. We will always run into obstacles in our lives, it's how we contend with it. That is the important decision, one has to make on his own. :ai: :ki: :do: :)

Alvin H. Nagasawa
01-09-2005, 02:45 PM
Re: Learning, How to Learn Aikido

It is a interesting topic up for discussion, One which is the responsibility of the individual teaching the class. I have read all the posting on this subject, and the range of Personality, Professional level, MA background, everyone having there individual prospective on the subject. This is what a Instructor has to deal with in teaching any form of MA. Especially to a beginner entering your class, I would always ask the student why are you interested in Aikido?. Have you previous MA background?. I first ask them to observe the class and then make up there minds if the wish to join the Club. "Enter the dojo with and empty cup", Not a filled one.

Once the are a member of the club, they must understand the dojo rule,etiquette,and etc.
And have a qualified assistant to coach the beginner on the exercises, how to tumble is the most difficult obstacle for a beginner to over come in Aikido.. Before he or she can participate in the regular class, is important safety factor. A injured student will miss or sit out several months of class if they get injured. And it is the responsibility of the instructor to insure that everyone under his direction is training safely and understand what is taught in the class. Before moving on to another technique or waza, It is important that the lowest Kyu rank or Beginner understand and can execute, what was taught. And to have a one to one contact with all the students, to feel the flow, and execution of the technique. And not to hurt the student in the process, You have to remember."We, all we beginners once ". I hope you wish to be treated with same respect and have that individual continue his journey in Aikido."Respect others and they will respect you in return". Compassion, is a learning process and I am still seeking that path. One has to look at one's self before judging others.

The above is my opinion. I can say this in closing, each situation is different. We will always run into obstacles in our lives, it's how we contend with it. That is the important decision, one has to make on his own. :ai: :ki: :do: :)In addition to my option, You get what you paid for. You have the option to stay or move on. But I believe it is the the instructor of the class or Dojo Cho. To respect each individual that is interested in the MA. And to treat he or she fairly. :ai: :)

JasonFDeLucia
01-09-2005, 07:41 PM
Hi everyone,

One interesting question that I've been chewing on is how to teach someone to learn how to learn aikido. I very much believe that pretty much most, if not all, of us can teach people, but it seems to be a much deeper task to teach someone to learn how to learn aikido.

Basically, I think there's a difference between learning something and learning how to learn something and was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on how to teach someone to learn how to learn aikido.

For example, I've seen folks who seem to have the desire to learn aikido but, for one reason or other, just don't seem to get "it." I've seen folks who seem to be all too keen on getting it "now -- and right now!" A lot of people seem to either want to just get to the end of a technique no matter what -- kind of like skimming through a mystery novel to see "whodunit" without enjoying (nor understanding) the meat of the book. There are others like the "I have 12 years of experience in Foobarbaz-do so I slip back into that mode a lot" folks, the "Geez, I make so many honkin' mistakes every time I move that I can't even get through the tenkan exercise without beating myself up over it," folks, the "I've been doing aikido for ten years so I'll just keep doing the same things over and over and over and over and over" folks, and many others.

The above were just examples, of course. I'm sure people can come up with many other types.

My thoughts seem to come back to the topic of "awarness" in all of these cases, but that could just be me.

What sort of tips would you give to someone who just began their aikido training if they asked, "What approach should I take in learning aikido?" Or someone who has had six months of training but is getting frustrated? Any concrete exercises or thoughts that you can give to people like this?

-- Jun
the simplest truest thing you could tell someone about how to learn aikido is that all techniques should be assimilated through a tenkan ,and that randori should be executed the same way.

Alvin H. Nagasawa
01-09-2005, 08:10 PM
the simplest truest thing you could tell someone about how to learn aikido is that all techniques should be assimilated through a tenkan ,and that randori should be executed the same way.
Jason,
I see that you have 10 years of Aikido experience. In those ten years did anyone ever helped you with your problem?. Did you discuss it with your teacher or Sempai's?. You mentioned Assimilated throught a Tenkan, and Randori should be executed the same way?. You lost me there!. :confused:

Karen King
01-30-2005, 08:44 PM
About 3 years into my training (I'm at 7.5 now), I moved and changed senseis. I was ikkyu at the time and had become (without really knowing it) quite stuck in my thinking. I was pretty stiff too. My new sensei didn't talk much, but he was very clear about the fact that he wanted me to do exactly what he had demonstrated. He had many ways to let me know I wasn't on the right track. Sometimes he would simply use my partner to re-demonstrate the technique. He would then wait and watch me try...if I got it, great, if not he might stand there repeating "no" until I self-corrected. Sometimes he would come over and be my uke...if I did the technique wrong, he wouldn't move or he might even hit me if I left an opening (but only hard enough to make his point...not really painful). I can remember standing there, with him not moving, for what seemed like long periods of time (but they really weren't), I can also remember getting hit over and over (but not hard...just repeatedly). He taught ukemi the same way. There were a couple of times he called me up for ukemi and then told the class not to do ukemi like that.
Now, it would be one thing if he was full of himself or mean spirited...but he actually pushes himself as hard as or harder than his students. He doesn't really toot his own horn or pretend that hes the end all and be all. He is just a stern and insistent kind of fellow. You simply do not get away with not doing the technique right (aka the way he demonstrated it).
Relating this back to the thread...I learned how to learn from this sensei. I learned how to REALLY look at what was being demonstrated. I became MUCH better at being present on the mat...focusing only on what was happening...not on what had happened before. My first sensei had talked about awareness...but it was my second sensei that TAUGHT me awareness. I do not mean to imply that my first sensei was inferior...but I have a tendency to overthink/tense up/lose focus and it took a more hands-on approach to get me past some of that (of course...its still an issue).
This whole in my face, not letting me get away with anything approach was effective but I should note that he doesn't do that with brand new students.... It's a hard road.
To sum-for me learning how to learn Aikido is about awareness...learning how to really see, to really feel...the whole "Zen in motion" thing. I live in a different town and have a different excellent sensei (I feel lucky), but I learned about awareness from that sensei.

Alvin H. Nagasawa
01-30-2005, 09:44 PM
About 3 years into my training (I'm at 7.5 now), I moved and changed senseis. I was ikkyu at the time and had become (without really knowing it) quite stuck in my thinking. I was pretty stiff too. My new sensei didn't talk much, but he was very clear about the fact that he wanted me to do exactly what he had demonstrated. He had many ways to let me know I wasn't on the right track. Sometimes he would simply use my partner to re-demonstrate the technique. He would then wait and watch me try...if I got it, great, if not he might stand there repeating "no" until I self-corrected. Sometimes he would come over and be my uke...if I did the technique wrong, he wouldn't move or he might even hit me if I left an opening (but only hard enough to make his point...not really painful). I can remember standing there, with him not moving, for what seemed like long periods of time (but they really weren't), I can also remember getting hit over and over (but not hard...just repeatedly). He taught ukemi the same way. There were a couple of times he called me up for ukemi and then told the class not to do ukemi like that.
Now, it would be one thing if he was full of himself or mean spirited...but he actually pushes himself as hard as or harder than his students. He doesn't really toot his own horn or pretend that hes the end all and be all. He is just a stern and insistent kind of fellow. You simply do not get away with not doing the technique right (aka the way he demonstrated it).
Relating this back to the thread...I learned how to learn from this sensei. I learned how to REALLY look at what was being demonstrated. I became MUCH better at being present on the mat...focusing only on what was happening...not on what had happened before. My first sensei had talked about awareness...but it was my second sensei that TAUGHT me awareness. I do not mean to imply that my first sensei was inferior...but I have a tendency to overthink/tense up/lose focus and it took a more hands-on approach to get me past some of that (of course...its still an issue).
This whole in my face, not letting me get away with anything approach was effective but I should note that he doesn't do that with brand new students.... It's a hard road.
To sum-for me learning how to learn Aikido is about awareness...learning how to really see, to really feel...the whole "Zen in motion" thing. I live in a different town and have a different excellent sensei (I feel lucky), but I learned about awareness from that sensei.
Awareness, attention to detail and what is taught by the instructors you had in the past and present is your as you mentioned (I feel lucky) that one talked about it and the other TAUGHT it. The instructor you first mentioned was one who was Stern and Insistent in teaching you. Consider yourself fortunate in his eye's that he gave you his attention. If he didn't think you were worth his time and devotion to detail. He wouldn't' have paid any attention to your development.
As for myself my development on the topic of awareness was developed after obtaining the rank of Nidan.I too at the beginning was scolded to stop thinking on the mat, Relax and so on. So it took me longer than yourself (You are lucky). I learned by observation and learned by watching the students execute their techniques. No one can say that the road to Aikido is a easy one, You have all these pot holes and detours one has to make on one's journey.

Brion Toss
02-15-2005, 04:22 PM
Hello all,
I remember Castaneda's Don Juan saying something like, "Only fools will voluntarily pursue the Path of Knowledge; sensible people need to be tricked." So at least for young people, for whom Aikido can (should?) be a way to pursue more than martial technique, part of teaching them how to learn is keeping them around long enough to learn. Aikido, like every other difficult undertaking, will always have a high attrition rate of beginners, but at least we can avoid pushing them away through our own actions or inactions.
This is not to say that we are the only responsible party here, only that it is a relationship, requiring effort on the part of both parties. And we also needn't patronize the student or cartoonify the art. But a little razzle-dazzle (i.e. legitimate techniques done by senior students at speed), a little inspirational recitation (i.e. excerpts from many of the above posts), and a little drama (i.e., as someone noted, putting a tanto in their hands) can do wonders for stretching attention spans. These things, along with strong emphasis on basic moves, good, safe ukemi, teaching to different learning styles, etc., can at least get students to the point where sheer momentum will carry them along (i.e., get them to where they can see why the art might be worth pursuing forever).
For those who don't need these inducements, or think they don't, I find the concept of "evolved engineering" to be useful in many instances. That is, someone who muscles through and ends up tottering at the end of irimi nage is simply performing the move something like the way it was probably originally performed, by some proto-Samurai. As combatants' skills evolved, the original version became less viable, so irimi nage Mk ll was developed, then Mk lll, and so on. Each successive version affected uke sooner, more profoundly, leaving fewer openings, and leaving nage more and more balanced throughout the technique, until we got to Ueshiba, who pretty much had completed the throw before he got out of bed in the morning. So congratulate the muscler (or the other-art-imprinted student, or the chronically clueless) for doing something, anything, and work to draw that out into something greater.
Yours,
Brion Toss

Aikipad
06-01-2009, 05:19 PM
The best tip i can give to you when you learn aikido (http://www.learnaikidosite.com)
is to just enjoy yourself, listen, watch and respect each other :)
As O sensei said:-
Always practice the art of peace in a vibrant and joyful manner