View Full Version : talkative sempai

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11-11-2000, 11:34 PM

I'm just wondering if any fairly new aikidoka out there occassionally have the sempai who attempts to explain and show every little nuance he/she knows taking a long time to let me practice and basically flooding me with information. I find it very hard when I train with this kind of sempai, of course I appreciate them trying to help but basically I would much rather to just be able to train.....no matter how much talking, I'm not gonna learn unless I can practice freely. I don't want to have a whinge but it is just a little frustrating, also more than often this happens when we have a relief sensei taking the class who stops training every 5 minutes to talk some more about the particular technique. Training becomes very confusing and hard for me when this happens as the constant stop/starts break up my concentration and make me try to focus on about fifty things at once which causes my technique to be sketchy.....oh I'm just gonna quit rambling now!

How can I attempt to turn this into more of a learning experience for me rather than a frustrating one?

Also one other thing I have noticed is with very young yudansha, when on the odd occassion I train with them, there technique is quite powerful and they are good aikidoists but they have little respect for me as a beginner. Either forcing me to train at their level, even when I am nage which just does not work. Or else they are rather rough, which I find is a little unacceptable for a yudansha as they don't have the control to avoid me getting hurt.



11-12-2000, 01:12 AM
try looking at those occaisions as a chance to take notes. From the sounds of your post those are not all that frequent. When you walk into the dojo and see that someone who is prone to talk a lot is leading class, change your mindset for the session and instead of focusing on practicing so hard, focus on trying to take mental notes. Try out the little things that are being pointed out instead of trying to just practice (probably in the same way you always do) and use the session as a chance to expand your understanding a bit.

And if you get someone who's forcing you to a level of training you dont feel you are ready for, try just politely but bluntly telling them that there's a problem and what it is.

There's a good possibitly that they dont know they are doing that or that they are being rough.

11-12-2000, 02:25 AM

I've been trainin about 3mths now, and I personally like it when they flood me with information. I don't think of it as I HAVE to remember everything or do it perfectly because that just wont happen. I just think about what they say and attempt to apply it. If you think too much on remembering everything or that they're talking too much, your not thinking about the right thing. Just consider what they're saying in relation to the technique, and try to keep in simple within yourself. At least this has been my approach to Aikido (and really most things in general), and its seemed to work out good so far. Remember, always keep a positive mind! (Its more powerful than anything else).

If the shodan resists on the technique its probably because your getting better and they want you to perfect the technique further. I love the challenge of someone who resists, eventhough at my level it's extremely difficult to overcome. As for getting hurt during the technique, I'd recommend 1 of 2 things.. Let them know, because they may be doing the technique off somewhat and need to adjust, or simply fall softer.

PS I'm working on falling smoother myself...

11-12-2000, 05:57 PM
my suggestion for talkative sempai is to respectfully tell them 'i learn best by feeling, please do the technique'...most don't talk while they are moving.
as for rough partners of any rank, tell them nicely that you are not up to the ukemi yet, or that something is hurting you...one thing to examine, in case no one has mentioned it: never attack faster/stronger than you can fall (remember that energy will be coming back to you shortly), and that your role as uke includes being sensitive to nage and where you are being put---resisting, stiffening up/tensing up, planting your feet and refusing to move---all result in much harder falls than you have to take, and will INCREASE the pain in a pin.
colleen annes

11-12-2000, 07:03 PM
thanks for your replies, they are of much help to me. At the point when I started this thread I had one of those awfully frustrating training sessions. More so than any other that I had experienced up until that point. So much so that I almost felt like quitting right afterwards......but of course I won't.

What I meant to say about the rough shodan came out a little wrong, I'm ok with taking a bit of hard ukemi, toughens you up, I ahhhh doesn't matter hehe.

Point is, thanks for your advice.



Richard Harnack
11-12-2000, 09:33 PM
1. If by sempai you mean any student senior to you, then listen to those who are yudansha. Sometimes Aikidoka run on a little bit too much thinking that talking is useful. Perhaps, they are just tired and are taking a rest while they are talking to you.

2. If your sensei shows or explains the technique differently from what someone else has, then guess who is "right".

3. Years ago when I was a "brand new" shodan, there was a group of Ikkyu in the dojo who thought they were "tough". To confirm this for themselves, they went around frustrating the lower ranks on techniques. A group of us made it a point to train with these people at every opportunity. Guess what we did? Yes, we frustrated them on all of their techniques. Kobayshi, Sensei did not know or approve of our behavior. However, shortly afterwards he began to explain at every opportunity that it was the responsibility of the higher ranks to make certain the lower ranks improved. This being part of their shodan exam.

4. In relation to the above, I have known more advanced students to be injured by beginners, than the other way around. Usually this is a result of the beginner muscling a technique at the very moment the advanced student is attempting to help them learn the direction of the particular technique.

I hope these muddled musings are helpful.

11-13-2000, 05:25 AM
This all sounds very unfortunate.

If a sempai is flooding you with information, say something like 'there seem to be too many points to keep in my head at one time'. He will either get the message or he will start philosophising for the next hour about your mind being one with your body. If you socially interact (i.e. outside the dojo) you could tell him/her straight that you find it difficult to follow all these ideas at once; which should improve everyones training. I'm always pushing people to give me feedback on their training, so if your sensei is trying to get you to learn rather than trying to demonstrate his/her own skill, they should welcome any particular comments (though best to avoid any direct criticism in the dojo).

As far as rough higher grades go - this can be very disconcerting. Again, saying something like 'I'm finding that comes on too fast' may work. Aiki is a sharing experience where you are both supposed to learn. Sometimes higher grades can be selfishly proving to themselves that a technique works despite the fact that it is causing increased tension in uke (and often developing a submissive reaction which would not realistically occur), and may result in them not training with you in future; which is a loss to both of you.

I suppose the take home message is; no matter what level we're at, we still have as much to learn from each other.


11-13-2000, 05:32 AM
I have found that a typical Aikido dojo goes through 'cycles' of training 'style' e.g. If there are a lot of young men that have been there a year or so they are usually very energetic and over enthusiastic with new ukes; if there are a lot of beginners or women, older people or experienced people the practise is usually more measured, or can even deteriorate into lethargy. The club attitude will change as new students join, some students leave and other students advance. Always remember that you are one of those students, and can affect the atmosphere of the club for the better.

P.P.S apologies for my gross generalisations over sex & age & experience. As Chuang Tzu said, 'the seven colours will blind you...'.

11-13-2000, 05:17 PM
you are very right about the shifts in atmosphere, recently for some reason the higher ranks rarely turn up, there are never as many as used to come, I dunno where they all are.....I know they haven't quit, just some kind of mass holiday or something hehe and there are suddenly a lot of newbies....people even newer than I! And the atmosphere has changed a lot....gone are the 3 weeks of intense training that occured not so long ago, which of course I was enjoying......here now the slow methodical awareness training, which is probably even more fundamental, but is missing the fun, being thrown around ukemi!