View Full Version : Poll: Which would you rather have in an aikido beginners teacher?

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05-16-2004, 03:15 PM
AikiWeb Poll for the week of May 16, 2004:

Which would you rather have in an aikido beginners teacher?

I don't do aikido
Good personality
Good technical ability

Here are the current results (http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=220).

Jeanne Shepard
05-16-2004, 03:37 PM
I'm sorry, BOTH are essential!


05-16-2004, 06:05 PM
Have to agree with Jeanne, neither are much chop with out the other.

Lachlan Kadick
05-16-2004, 06:32 PM
I agree with Jeanne and Scott, but since I had to choose one over the other, I have to choose that Technical Ability is more important. It is nice to have someone that you can communicate with, but when it comes down to it, we go to the dojo to learn how to concentrate and do martial arts, if we wanted more communication we should just go to a temple.

Neil Mick
05-16-2004, 08:08 PM
Of course both qualities are important. But, they question is a good one because it makes you think of which one is MORE important...which quality takes precedence.

05-17-2004, 02:23 AM
We're talking about teaching beginning students here, so perhaps in trying to keep the dropout rate down, personality is more important. A beginner with no previous MA experience wouldn't necessarily know good technical ability from bad, but they do know if they feel comfortable training under that teacher. From experience, it seems to me that good technicians with zero personality lose students quicker.

In the later stages in training, the teacher's personality becomes less of a consideration, and their technical ability much more.


05-17-2004, 10:23 AM
Agree with Ruth. No matter how good my first teacher's aikido might have been (like I would have known the difference anyway) if he'd been an asshole I wouldn't have stayed.


05-18-2004, 10:58 AM
As long as sensei does not have a BAD personality (which is already unlikely since sensei would have to have at least a reasonable personality to be an authority of Aikido), technical skill becomes the most important distinquishing characteristic. I have the honor & pleasure of learning principally from two sensei - one is quiet, disciplined and no-nonsense but very technically expert, the other more free-wheeling, casual, practical and 'fun'. Both contribute to a valuable experience.

Dario Rosati
05-18-2004, 07:46 PM
Both are important, but as a beginner and if I where forced to choose, I would choose the technical ability.

When people start from scratch, a MA is seen like any other service... I pay -> I want to learn nice stuff, quick, and in a good way.
If the sensei is a dumbass in his real life, it's secondary (for a certain period of time...) if he can teach me well.
You will find many examples in many sports/activities: a lot of champions/artists are dumbasses in real life... they simply put their natural talent to work, and students may surely benefit from that talent.
The human aspect emerges later: I'm practicing from only 10 months, but still I've seen many people come and go after few lessons, all for non-sensei related reasons, well before they can establish any kind of "human" relationship with the dojo... the vast majority leaved because they had a completely different idea of Aikido (Seagal films anyone?) and came to the dojo almost completely unaware of what Aikido or a MA is (I bet this happens in all MAs dojos, too).

It's probably a matter of what you're expecting from entering the MA path.... and it's probably better to grow fast technically and then switch to a nice sensei, than agonizing with a nice sensei struggling for years to reach a decent aikido level, and then fill the technical gap when you switch ;)

I choosed my sensei after 3 different dojos free lessons for a third reason : he's able to explain WHAT, WHEN, WHEN NOT, WHY and FROM WHERE of every tecnique in an extremely intuitive, practical and didactical way, even if he's not the best (ranking speaking) on the market.
In a word: didactical, which I think it's different both from human and from technical qualities, and a factor worth mentioning in the poll :)


Sigrun Hjartardottir
05-19-2004, 04:37 AM
Having great techique does not necessarily mean that you can easily teach it to other people. The person with a good personality, good insight into how to get people interested in aikido and wanting to come back is in my view far better for beginners. Most beginners are "just trying on" yet another MA, exercise regiment or a hobby. The finesse of the technique comes at a later state in the practice.

05-19-2004, 05:49 AM
Yep - I have seen some excellent aikidoka who cannot communicate what they are doing to their students. Don't judge an instructor by the quality of his aikido, but by the quality of his students!

I think most of us have the objective of being good at aikido. Thus they need some technical understanding (even if they don't have technical ability) but more importantly they need to be able to get YOU to do it well.

I would go as far as to say that Ueshiba was a good martial artist but a poor teacher. Even his uchideschi disagreed with the form which aikido should take. He also spoke in esoteric terms. Luckily though, there is video footage and some manuals which were written (or at least improved on) by him.

I do know an instructor who (I believe !) could easily be overcome in a real confrontation, however I know from experience that what he is teaching is important for my progression in practical aikido. I think we have to be like thieves, and steal all the good bits from a range of instructors. Our obligation should be to develop good aikido, not to revere those with high status (whether they are technically good or not). Obviously though, beginners need to learn the basics first!


Charles Bergman
05-21-2004, 12:07 PM
I would prefer to have both if I were running the dojo, but if I was a beginner and had to choose, I pick someone with good technical ability. I have seen people over the years who's personality I did not particularly like, but who were very good at passing on technical information to students.

Plus, I think like many of these polls, it depends a lot on how you define terms. It seems a lot easier to define "good technique" than "good personality." Personality clashes are inevitable - even is someone does have a good personality.

What about someone who you think has a "slightly less than good" personality but better than average technical skill? What about a terrific personality and no skill?

Bottom line as a beginner is that if I couldn't have both in an instructor, I would choose skill.

p.s. I don't have to worry about this, my instructors are both.

06-01-2004, 10:49 AM
Not a fair question. The learning process is hindered by the fact that you have contempt for this person. This is not basic miltary training where in most cases, the Drill Sergeant is pretending to be a jerk.