View Full Version : Getting a teacher to talk less

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07-22-2003, 11:08 AM
Many is the time where I have been in a class, eyes glazing over and mind wandering, while my sempai blathers on and on and on, taking up 2/3 of the class expounding his own personal philosophy of aikido and of life.

In a fairly traditional aikido setting, how can a student get a sempai to chill with the talkie-waza?

Obviously I don't feel comfortable just asking the teacher to talk less and demo more, or I would not be posting here. Given that this dojo and especially this teacher are very concious of etiquette and dignity, does anyone have any helpful suggestions on this issue?

Your insights are greatly appreciated.

Chuck Clark
07-22-2003, 11:25 AM
Being one of these teachers that occasionally talk too much, I can address this problem.

Point one: You might be surprised how much you could learn if your "eyes and mind" were involved in what your teacher was giving you. (I know it's hard...) Teachers aren't perfect and most are trying very hard to do the best they can with the tools they have.

Point two: Quite a lot of teachers would be open to respectful, private feedback about your feelings. They are learning in the dojo as well.

Point three: Many of the "famous" teachers have been criticized for talking too much. So your teacher isn't in bad company if they can also do the "non-verbal" stuff. You might want to hang around.

Point four: If after doing everything that's possible to help the situation adjust to something that's workable and you still find yourself spending too much time with glassy eyes and wandering mind...enable the one thing you have real control over. YOU.

Good Luck.

07-22-2003, 11:58 AM
My seidokan teacher, Eli Landau, had a tendency sometimes to talk quite a bit in class. His son, Uri, who is also his student, would constantly complain about it (privately, after class). Now that Uri is also teaching, Eli says that it gives him some perverse satisfaction to see how much Uri talks. At the same time, I think over the years Eli has grown to talk much less.

The point is: treat your sensei with compassion. When you are a sensei, you may well make the same mistakes and hope for compassion from your students.

07-22-2003, 12:09 PM
Tape their mouth closed.

07-22-2003, 12:47 PM
Some of the best learning I got was from Bill Sosa Sensei talking. I relished the things that he spoke about & I couldn't get enough. Of course...I respected this man and his opinion about anything! I have many tapes of his teachings at our seminars. The parts that I can latch onto and get a deeper understanding, are those parts where he just talks!

Ron Tisdale
07-22-2003, 12:48 PM
Aleksey, you crack me up. If I had the ... ahhhhh, [cough] "gumption" I might even try that myself!


07-22-2003, 01:54 PM
Tape their mouth closed.Well, it's likely that you'll end up learning some Aikido in the effort, certainly!

07-22-2003, 02:29 PM
As a student and an instuctor, I to find it hard to find a correct response to over talking/teaching. I have found that if you nicely ask questions about thier material, you'll find they will teach you physicaly as well as verbal. So, you'll get the best of both worlds.

07-22-2003, 03:47 PM
start rolling your eyes and drooling as you slowly collapse in catatonia

07-22-2003, 04:29 PM
Or you could just go to another dojo, if there is one.

07-22-2003, 07:56 PM
I think quite often the talking is in response to the glazing over that occurs during practise...I've noticed our sensei talks a lot more when as a group we appear to be less 'with it'.

but if you ask a lot of questions this usually stops it...

Choku Tsuki
07-22-2003, 08:41 PM
Who's paying attention? Anonymous mentioned twice it's sempai the teacher who'd rather talk.

Tell your teacher you'd rather move and practice than sit and hear what this know nothing has to say (use your own nicely couched words first though) and see what happens. If you're not happy...leave.


07-22-2003, 11:25 PM
The above observation is the reason i get talked to A LOT.

but...given that...if the Sempai IS the teacher...does that not make him also SENSEI?

Chuck Clark
07-22-2003, 11:55 PM
After rereading the first post by the anonymous poster, I still think they're talking about the teacher.

Check out the title, the usage of sempai both times and also "I don't feel comfortable just asking the teacher to talk less and demo more,.." part of the message.

07-23-2003, 03:50 AM
I was wondering - is '2/3 of the class' real, or an exageration to get the point over? If it is real and frequent, this seems very excessive to me - I feel aikido is leant more in the doing than the reading/listening, although I also have learnt a huge amount by listening, including on this forum.

I have sometimes seen lower grades (say, up to 3rd dan) talk too much, myself included, for the wrong reasons such as ego, however have never heard a more experienced instructor talk too much, if you are prepared to listen.

How to address this? Try leading them - "Sensei, can you show how that principle or philosolphy can be applied in practice through technique?"


07-23-2003, 03:59 AM
agreed, asking for a demonstration should get the teacher moving again.

07-23-2003, 07:36 AM
What about less talk but too much demos.

To concerned instructors (on a 2 hr sched/session)

How much time do you spend on aiki and other exercises?

In Explaining techniques?

In Demos?

In students practicing their techniques?

In randori?

Lyle Bogin
07-23-2003, 08:49 AM
Maybe your instructor is going through a phase and it will work itself out. You can always build your cognitive image of the techniques while mat dreaming.

07-23-2003, 09:04 AM
I have sometimes seen lower grades (say, up to 3rd dan) talk too much, myself included, for the wrong reasons such as ego, however have never heard a more experienced instructor talk too much, if you are prepared to listen.I've heard that Saotome talks too mcuh. I've heard that Ueshiba talked too much when he was getting older. I've never seen either of them teach.

08-11-2003, 11:37 AM
Stand up in the middle of the lecture, yell "BAKA BUDO!!!" and run out of the dojo...

Nick P.
08-11-2003, 03:19 PM
Here's the other side of the coin (aka "Careful what you wish for"):

Class is practicing what had just been shown. Sensei (5th dan) claps. Then the following all happens at once (no pause to speak of)

-Partners stop practicing and start bowing to each other.

-Sensei's uke (4th dan) rushs over and starts getting technique done to him at a mind-bending speed.

-Students jump up and sprint back to "the line", trying not to drop their eyes for fear of missing whats going on.

-Sensei has completed both omote and ura and variants of said technique at increasing rate.

-Students go bug-eyed when Sensei mentions name of technique and bowes.

-Uke collapses from oxygene deprivation (joke, but close).

That's it. You turn to your partner and start doing your best until Sensei can't bear anymore and comes over to help you figure it out. I now understand why students hurry back to line up; obviously out of respect, but likely more so they won't miss a single moment of "lightning-waza".

Above is a true story as recounted by me.