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01-23-2003, 01:12 PM
I was wondering if anyone has had any experience in taking one-on-one lessons with an instructor from your dojo apart from regular classes. I seem to learn a great deal faster when working with someone who is much more experienced, as I assume most people do, and I think some one-on-one practice could help me a lot. My question is: Is asking an instructor about private training bad etiquette?

Thanks for any help! :)

01-23-2003, 02:17 PM
I was wondering if anyone has had any experience in taking one-on-one lessons with an instructor from your dojo apart from regular classes. I seem to learn a great deal faster when working with someone who is much more experienced, as I assume most people do, and I think some one-on-one practice could help me a lot. My question is: Is asking an instructor about private training bad etiquette?
good question. for a time over the summer I was the only student going to our sunday practices and so I was the recipient of much one on one instruction with my sensei. good stuff. the only difference was occasionally cutting short our time.

as a fencing instructor I live by private lessons/one-on-one. in fact, even when the Salle meets I prefer taking fencers one at a time when my time allows.


Janet Rosen
01-23-2003, 02:19 PM
Hi, Judd.

From what I've seen and heard, some instructors WILL provide private lessons for a fee while many will NOT.

I think a common answer is that it is the dynamic of the group, working in class with a variety of partners, that one learns from (there is no one way something works on all people).

My question to you is: are you frustrated about one particular aspect that you feel you are slow with (for instance, your back roll really sucks, or you just can't figure out where to put your feet for tenkan)? If so, then asking the instructor or a senior student if they are willing to work with you for 15 minutes before or after a class may help.

A couple of other thoughts:

If you feel your progress is slow, well, the thing many of us find with aikido is that the process is everything (after 7 yrs I'm just beginning to feel I understand the ramifications of the simple turning exercise we call tai no henko); relax, breathe, take each class as it comes and don't worry about pace of "progress."

If you feel you have a learning style that is not met by the instructor's teaching style, that may need to be looked at. Some of us learn best by slowly parsing out the technique into tiny pieces, some of us have to have verbal instructions to follow along with, some of us have to stand next to the demonstrator and shadow the movements, etc.

hope something in here is helpful...


01-23-2003, 02:53 PM

Hmm...I don't think I have a problem with my rate of progress, I love every minute of practice :)! And I don't think my motivation in seeking more training is to jump ahead of my fellow students, afterall, we're all in this together! But it's when an instructor throws me, or allows me to throw him, that I can really feel mistakes. They (teachers) know where to resist, how to test and what to point out. When we pause in a technique, for instance, and my arms are re-posistioned by the teacher, or my feet, or whatever, I seem to remember the feeling of my body at that moment and it acts as sort of a checkpoint for me to get to each time. If I had one-on-one training, I could figure our tons of these little checkpoints to help me remember how something should feel, and maybe avoid bad habits from forming.

However, as much as I struggle, I would never question the methods of any instructor, and I totally respect the way we train, even though I may not know the "big-picture". I think the "why" question is a natural one for a student, but I see your point, the path to find the answer can teach more than the answer itself.

Thanks for the responses! Does anyone else have other thoughts?

Janet Rosen
01-23-2003, 04:59 PM
Hi, Judd--

sorry more folks aren't jumping in too....its a good question in that it raises lots of potential issues and more questions!

From what you specified: that you feel the difference in when its done right vs. wrong, and that there are so many precise little things to learn.....

I'd say that is exactly what canNOT be shortcut by private lessons. It is what the body learns by doing over and over, integrating it into muscle memory, and that just plain takes time. If you just do repetitions of one tiny piece you may perfect "it" but your body will not integrate it into the larger picture and learn to generalize.

don't know if that makes sense...happy keiko..

01-23-2003, 05:15 PM
I see your point, though my thinking was not to shortcut anything, but to simply get more focused practice in addition to, not instead of, regular practice. Afterall, you can never have too much practice! I appreciate your input at any rate, it has definitely made me examine my motivations. :)

01-23-2003, 06:26 PM
Well.. go to dojo early or stay after training. Then come up to senior and ask for help. I think five mins. is enough. :) When I ask one of my teachers to learn high break falling, he just threw me for 10 mins.. So I learned it. :) IMHO, it's a private lesson. Don't forgete to buy a bottle of beer or Gatorade after class for him or her. :)


01-23-2003, 09:54 PM
Hi Judd,

I took private lessons from my instructor. While I agree that the instructor can help point out, in precise detail, where your aikido sucks, I feel the most invaluable part of the process is taking ukemi. Being able to see and feel his application of aikido, and being given the chance to try to find weak points in his technique, has been a great learning experience. Always take the opportunity to get tossed around by an experienced and skilled aikidoka, especially if he/she is letting you be uncooperative. My 2 cents...


Kelly Allen
01-24-2003, 01:05 AM
Well I just tried to post a reply here and it didn't work so I'm testing it this time because it took me 20" to post the one I lost. Grr!

Kelly Allen
01-24-2003, 01:27 AM
OK It works now. Judd! You are a member of a very good Dojo. I am positive that they will teach you at your level whether it is one on one or not. Our Dojo is relitively small member wise so I often end up with one on one instruction. This is good in that Sensie will pic apart my flaws, but it is important to be able to try the technics on a number of different body types. Aside from that other things that will help in your training is reading. Some must reads are "Aikido The Dynamic Sphere" and "Aikido For Teaching and Training". Ukemi is also VERY important. If you can learn the proper way to fall you tend to feel the proper way to throw. I recently obtained an exellent tape on Ukemi by Sensie Bookman from the Seattle Aikikai. If you get a chance watch it. Lastly try to get to some seminars. Sometimes a different perspective can help clear up a stumbling point you may have on a technic or concept. Don't try and rush your training because there will be something to learn for the rest of your life.

01-24-2003, 03:57 AM
In a number of dojos where I've practiced, the time before tests is a time for a lot of one-on-one instruction. This is usually not from the main sensei of the dojo, but there can often be a pretty good gap in rank. In all the dojos I've been in, doing AiKiDo outside of class is highly encouraged.

Jeanine Perron
01-24-2003, 08:01 AM
I took private lessons for for two years. I went to an Aikido class taught at UTSA college. I learned more from having many different Ukes and for me to finally be thrown by inexpeienced Aikidoist. I switched schools and the teaching is very different but I need the different Ukes.

Hopefully by training in two different styles, I can learn to pick what technic is best for me.

Choku Tsuki
01-24-2003, 10:34 AM
Private lessons are a good way to help your Sensei with extra cash while improving yourself, so you both benefit.

If you're short on dough then maybe you can barter: lessons in exchange for a web site, or whatever it is you can do.

01-29-2003, 01:48 AM
hey there.

i dont think its bad manners at all infact id see it as dedication to Aikido.

i train and have a private trainer at the gym so i get the best of both worlds. hehe!

But there is no harm in finding out weather ur sensai is ok with giving private lessons u'll never know if u dont ask.