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01-31-2001, 04:12 PM
So, here's a question for those of you teachers out there.

If you were just handed over an assignment of a two-month class of teaching aikido to thirty brand new students, how would you approach teaching them?

Would you teach by a step-by-step, analytical process ("right hand here, left foot here"), a more "movement" oriented style of showing entire techniques with one or two pointers and letting the beginners figure stuff out themselves, some mixture of the two, or something else?

-- Jun

Richard Harnack
01-31-2001, 05:25 PM
This is "easy".
1. Focus on the basic exercises and rolls.

2. As everyone becomes comfortable with #1, expand into the basic evasions and application movements.

3. As everyone becomes comfortable with #'s 1 & 2, start with basic techniques which will lead them into a safe back fall or a safe forward take down, no forward throws until everyone is okay with "flying". Shomenuchi Kokyunage, Munetsuki Kotegaehi, Katatetori Ikkyo Tenkan or Katatetori Nikkyo are all good basic movements to start with.

#'s 1 - 3 should take the average new student through most of their first month of training at 2 - 3 hours per week.

Usually, I give everyone at least 3 -4 hours before we get into any foward take downs. This allows them to practice their rolls. I give them the explanation that their rolls are the most important thing in their early training as learning proper rolls now will allow them to train safely for the next 20 years. So from the 20 year perspective 3 - 6 months is nothing.

More on what to do in the second month next time.

Dan Hover
02-26-2001, 10:36 AM
I have helped teach the college course at Ohio state under two different teachers, this is a 3 month course, with about 30 students meeting once a week. We always would do ikkyo and basic 5th or 6th kyu techniques. Nothing involving rolls. Students usually feel quite awkward at first doing Aikido to begin with and to start with rolls they have a tendency to quit rather quickly as they have a minimal investment. Whereas if the already know like back sit falls for things like shihonage, or forward falls for ikkyo then do rolls they have the mindset of more invested and less of a obstacle to overcome. So we always taught waza that involved basic things like kosa tori ikkyo, or kata tori nikyo. At first very much "by the numbers" Yoshikan is the "best" at doing it this way. then we would add the partner. either way it can be both frustrating and rewarding.

02-26-2001, 11:33 AM
Yeh, I would agree with Dan.

I ran a 10 week course as an 'intro' to aikido. Started off with large numbers and rapidly dropped off. The problem was that most people have the 'death touch' mentality to martial arts at first and think that they will be expert in a few weeks.

Also, many people (esp. older people) are very frightened of doing ukemis and feel stupid doing them (how will a ukemi help me beat someone up?).

Ikkyo, Nikkyo (beginners always like Nikkyo 'cos they think it works, and they have doubts about everything else!) and shiho-nage are good starters., though they don't necessarily teach the core of aikido.

Don't do too much. Only 1 technique in a night. Also, make sure you include a few striking attacks during the course or they will think its only useable against grabs!


02-26-2001, 11:42 AM

teaching a set of complete beginners is absolutely the worst! It is very demanding because Aikido requires your whole body to move and people start with poor coordination and understanding of what is really happening. If at all possible get as many other aikidoists to help you - most people learn more when they are training directly with someone that at least knows the basics.

If this is a problem, you can run through things like a kata, but unless they feel how the technique should actually work they will take a long time to learn.

Another thing - what is the purpose of running a 3 month course? If they are just going to dissapate after 3 months (e.g. just a quick self-defence course) it may be worth doing it more in a jujitsu style, just cos it takes so long to get good body movement and people just find it confusing if you try to teach too much.

Good luck, but I don't envy you - luckily the people that stayed at my course have had the patience and determination to get through the period of 'this is all too complicated and doesn't work' to start doing very effective technique (in fact I was just talking to one of them about the fact that you can do counters to any technique, when she applied sankyo and I had to add; 'any poor technique'). I've found the people that stick at it are generally the people of stronger character, which makes the club all the better.


02-27-2001, 06:00 AM
Because I run a university club, I have done this quite a lot. At the beginning of the year, you always get huge numbers of people arriving and it can be very daunting the first time.
I always do the following -
1. if you don't have a good uke it can be very difficult, so I try to get one from my own club to come along. Also if I can get other experienced aikidoka to circulate and teach during practise that is a great help (plus they are invaluable in getting people stood in the right place at the right time)
2. I try and make the classes a bit shorter so people don't feel they have to give up an entire evening until they are ready. Plus beginners have a shorter attention span usually.
3. I always start with a demonstration of a complete kata so the beginners see more aikido that they would just practising.
4. I concentrate on one or two base practises at first and work on techniques from grips -it is easier to get the correct ma-ai from a grip. I always show several applications of the same technique so I don't give the impression that everything is from grips.
Out of 60 students only 1/4 stay until the end of their course - you learn not to take it personally after a while.
Because a lot of people go to all the martial arts to find out which is best it makes for some interesting conversation!

02-27-2001, 10:28 AM
There's an interview on aikidofaq with O Sensei and Kissomharu together where they're asked pretty much this question. I can't remember exactly, but I think Kissomharu spoke about teaching Taisabaki, Ma-ai and then the first technique taught was a shihonage. It might not be precisely as I've described- my answer here isn't so much useful as a pointer to something interesting....


Richard Harnack
02-27-2001, 01:54 PM
This has been an extremely busy and frustrating month, not to mention a sad one for me.

My of my longest Aikido friends, Peter Ting, Sensei passed away this past week finally succumbing to cancer. More about him elsewhere.

In terms of teaching a completely new group of beginners, this can be the most excitement you will ever have. Anyone can teach people who already know something, but starting with people for whom you are their first contact with the "martial arts", this takes skill, patience, understanding and humility.

For me, it is always the student who takes precedence, not the instructor. With a brand new group of beginners the temptation is to "show off", don't. I have known instructors who have lost students regularly simply because they were more concerned on how they looked, rahter than focusing on what the student needed to learn.

I'll stop here for now.