View Full Version : something to look forward to for beginners

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02-06-2004, 02:26 PM
My dojo has been running for 4 years now. So far it has been a place for a few people to practice Aikido, Ju-Jutsu and pretty much anything we could teach each other.

Several new students recently joined the class; and following a recent article in our local paper there may be more coming. Everyone is happy about it but there is something I keep thinking about and I was wondering if anyone here had something to say. I would appreciate your thoughts and ideas.

Now, our dojo has never had a belt system, most of the students had graded in other places. But I thought there should be something for the beginners to look forward to, to motivate then to train. So, apart from the belt system, what do you think can be offered to them?


Chris Birke
02-06-2004, 04:48 PM
I think testing for belts is stupid, but testing for testing's sake is cool. That's always a fun thing to look forwards to and train for.

(I think belts should come through competition btw, such that they mean something practical. - Spirtually, you can't give someone a belt test. :D That'd just be silly.)

I also think weird training days are cool, ie monday is a situation day where you will be randomly attacked during class. Stuff like that. Inventive and creative!

James Giles
02-07-2004, 02:07 AM
As a beginner myself (I started training in Aikido five months ago), I can tell you what motivates me, and perhaps the same will motivate your beginning students.

My dojo is pretty small, and there are really no beginner classes. The first few weeks I spent time on one side of the mat working on forward and reverse rolls, but from day one, I was allowed to work out with the advanced students practicing techniques (although they were a little gentle on me) in which I could safely be thrown or immobilized (kotegaeshi, ikkyo, nikkyo, sankyo, iriminage, shihonage etc.).

Since I was allowed to play the role of uke, as well as nage from day one, I was able to experience first-hand, the awesome power and just the overall "magic" of Aikido techniques.

I fell in love with Aikido on day one because I realized that it was indeed a devastating martial art, yet could be practiced in a way that is relatively safe.

In my opinion, this is all it takes to motivate a beginner. Perform a good ikkyo ura on them on the first day, and let them experience that feeling of being caught up in the midst of a tornado or a hurricane.

Once they get rolls down, give them the priveledge of practicing kaitenage or udekeminage. Once they get breakfalls down, reward them with the privelege of being able to work on koshinage and other harder throws with the other students. I agree with Chris Birke, a belt is insignificant. The real motivator is the desire to attain the priveledge of learning more and more advanced techniques.

The past couple of weeks, we have been practicing bokken kumitachi. My sensei is going to take his Nidan test soon, and he has given me the priveledge to work out with the class on these techniques. It is a blast. Maybe you could offer beginners in your dojo a chance to work out with bokken or jo staff after a few months of training. That may motivate them also. I know it works on me!


02-07-2004, 10:10 AM
I train in Ki Aikido and in our dojo we have a "newbie-period" of about 4-6 months depending on...well, our sensei's mind. By this "newbie-period" I mean that in this time they don't do any techniques or anything like that.

They listen to sensei explaining about "The Point", centredness, Ki, etc. They also do rolls and breakfalls and a lot of Ki tests like the unbendable arm and so forth. All of that means that they either grow tired, bored and leave only to never come back or continue coming to the trainings growing with anticipation about Ki Aikido. You can see it in their eyes; they're all: "Oh, maybe today's the day. Maybe today we start with the techniques!"

Sooner or later they do. Then again, some leave and never return, because there's not enough "action" going on, while others continue to come to the trainings.

What is it that motivates a newbie? Don't have a clue. In my case it was partly the general atmosphere - I always felt I belonged there, even when I was a complete rookie, nobody ever gave me the feeling that I shouldn't be there. Then there is our sensei who, when explaining "the theory" always gives colourful examples from everyday life, mostly about himself, and we all laugh at them together. And, again, this whole Ki idea makes me want to get to know it better. But mostly it's just fun doing it.

John Boswell
02-07-2004, 10:34 AM
I know how some systems don't use belts and I understand the good and bad of it. One motivating factor, however, is evidence of progress.

With the absence of colored belts, a dojo could still have a traditional ranking system where names are posted on the wall showing what kyu rank they are at. Certificates can be awarded to those passing their tests and names will rise up the progress of the board.

Like James was saying also, training from day one helps keep interest. Its one thing to have a beginners class with rolling and such being taught, but to train with yudansha also helps to motivate kyu's toward wanting to "be like Mike!" or something. (In this case, Mike Cervantes, not Jordan. Nidan AAA from my Dojo... he's good!) After first joining up a couple years ago, I learned alot from him and my Sensei. If I gain half of their skill in aikido, I'll be very impressed and have no doubt in my abilities.

So... to sum up:

Rank board


Training with excellent students and yudansha

That should do it, imho.

02-07-2004, 04:59 PM
I think a rank board and certificates are a good idea, especially if you don't have coloured belts/coloured tags. Working towards being allowed a weapons session is also another good idea.

As James Giles wrote, when I first started in Akikido I was the only beginner there, as my dojo is pretty small. I'm also the only woman there,but that's another matter... LOL!

One of the things that made me fall in love with Aikido was being able to do all the 'cool' difficult techniques right from the start. I spent most of my time on my first few weeks at Aikido learning breakfalls and rolls, but I was also allowed to join in with what some of the other students were doing and also train with the Yudansha, which is a big motivating factor IMO.

Nick Simpson
02-08-2004, 09:01 AM
Training with yudansha was a big thrill, feeling my first kotegaeshi received from a nidan and then going home to look up what this wondrous techniuque was that forced me into a high breakfall when I didnt know how (and also didnt injure me). Feeling it again a few weeks later from a visiting yondan cemented my feelings for aikido. I was also lucky in that I was chucked in with my sempai after a few weeks and they were (and still are) great to me. Being allowed to teach other beginners now and again also made me feel as if I had some worth to the dojo.

I definately think there should be a kyu grading system, not a coloured belt one which I dislike a lot, kyu grades do offer a motivator at first.

bolaji olayinka
02-08-2004, 11:30 AM
aikidokas are not good. even the aikiweb that i taught that will help me a lot even made things more worse than i taught. i have been trying to get in touch with at least one aikidoka but to no avail. aikido is fucked up and aikidokas themselves are not taught how to relate to new people.

02-08-2004, 05:53 PM
Its a shame you feel that way olayinka.

I have to disagree with you. I found my first sessions at my aikido club fantastic. The atmosphere is friendly and non-judgemental.

Can you be more specific as to what is bothering you?