View Full Version : Future Teacher - Advice to prepare?

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Big Dave
05-25-2004, 08:49 PM
Hi all,
I am a high school history teacher and long time coach of football, swimming, and Lacrosse. (10 years) I have been studying Aikido now for five months and think that it has great value, not only for myself but for my students as well. My ambition is to eventually transition from football coach to "Aikido Club" teacher at some indeterminant point in the future. Having said that, do you have any suggestions on how I might best prepare to eventually become a teacher of Aikido? Are there things, beyond the obvious of continuing to train and improve, that I should be thinking of or considering along the way if my eventual goal is to teach?

05-25-2004, 10:56 PM
Since you've just begun aikido, the best advice would be to remember the 'growing pains' for you to learn aikido now.

So that later when you teach beginners, you know how it feels like when everyone else can do that incredibly simple tenkan and this 'klutz' can't.

Jacky Chan liked to write down notes of ideas he gets wherever and whenever. To get to the point of teaching as an aikido sensei will no doubt take some years. So whatever brilliant approach and ideas you get coming from other senseis or from your own experience as a student, you should note down in your aikido diary. Then later when its your turn to teach, you can sort of allign your curriculum according to that path.

good luck.

Jordan Steele
05-25-2004, 11:01 PM
Teaching Aikido is a big responsibility and it's great that you want to follow that path and it also seem like you have the work ethic and an open mind, so you already have two fantastic qualities. To be a really great teacher I would suggest looking into a USAF dojo in your area with a Kenshusei(teacher training program). This program is like college, it takes time and incredibly hard work. You would be looking to acheive the title of Shidoin(qualified instructor). It is a major committment, but the other avenue is to branch out and declare yourself a teacher, which there is no rule against, however you will most likely not receive support from the organized (USAF etc..) dojos in your area. Also if you already have a good job, you might want to consider teaching a part time thing as running a dojo is an incredibly difficult task to manage with very little income(generally speaking). Good Luck.

05-26-2004, 03:56 AM
Train, train, train , train.

05-26-2004, 04:30 AM
Analyse the techniques you do and think how you would explain them. So much of aikido becomes instinctive and internalised that when you try to explain it to beginners it seems very difficult. They often ask the same questions, so after time you will work out a way of describing it.

I have found also that an 'assistant' who is not too advanced is a great asset as they can explain things in simpler terms and are more aware of the difficulties for beginners.


David Yap
05-26-2004, 06:01 AM
Hi David P,

It is good that you have this objective of eventually becoming a teacher of an art that you have selected to pursue - Aikido. At least, you train with a purpose.

Aikido is more than meet the eyes. O Sensei had said aikido meant different things to different people. By this, he meant that there are many ways to communicate/to explain what aikido is all about - there are many paths to the peak of a mountain. The syllables for "Sensei" or teacher in Japanese means the one who has come before. You have just begun to follow the path of someone else. To be a teacher means leading your students on the path you have chosen and you can only take them to as far as you have gone. Beware that some paths do have detours, crevices to cross and maybe quick-sand pits as well. Somewhere down the road, be prepare to overtake your guide and be prepare to be overtaken. Teaching aikido is not the same as coaching football, swimming or lacrosse, remember that there is the "Do" factor that you have to comprehend and communicate to the students who will come after you. This requires passion of the art itself not (just) teaching for monetary gains or food for ones ego. Ultimately, this is how a good teacher is judged. One will never reach the peak in ones lifetime, what I seek on the path (my criteria) are the challenges/tests my guide (sensei) has set ahead of me and how he would leave the right clues for me to follow (the communication). You will know that you are on the right path when it is never ending and the guide is still ahead of you until s/he is taken away by natural causes or old age. Hence, at the point where one is absolutely sure that one has overtaken the guide (the Sensei), then it is time to look for another even if it means that the guide is within oneself.

To be a good teacher means to be a good student, analyze well and make mental record of the clues left by the teacher(s) before you and pass on the appropriate clues & answers to the students that come after you. Remember the saying "Crappy teacher produce crappy student". Set a high standard for yourself and which your future students will surplus. The path is beyond techniques.

Welcome to the art of aiki-DO.


David Y

05-26-2004, 09:10 AM
one thing I could offer you is this-
draw on all of your experience. As a sports coach, you have a lot of experience that some with just aikido training may not. Sports, performance arts, and fine arts have parallels with aikido in that they are disciples. Meaning they force the practictioner to discover for themselves or go inward. You can often use the lessons learned in previous sports or arts to guide training. It is of course also useful when trying to assist beginners with a background in other sports or arts. It is a way of finding common ground.
When you teach you usually find that there is so much you don't know and you may also find out that you know more than you thought.

05-26-2004, 01:23 PM
Never stop learning or enjoying yourself.

Never lose Shoshin, beginner's mind.

Mark Uttech
05-27-2004, 06:50 AM
Study for eight years minimum. Attend three seminars and a camp annually. Be like the bird that doesn't fly too far from the branch. In gassho, tamonmark

Big Dave
05-31-2004, 08:56 PM
Thanks everyone for your replies. I having been keeping a journal, although I could be better about keeping it updated.....I recognize that there is no timeline involved here, but rather a simple goal of eventually transitioning away from coaching traditional sports to aikido at the high school. My vision at this time would be a free club for any student who dsires to take a class - say two or three times a week. After a few years with me hopefully these students could develop enough of an interest in Aikido that they would continue to train wherever they go next in life. I think that the thing that appeals to me the most is the deeper philosophy of aikido which would align with many of our broader curriculum goals in terms of teaching students Japanese history, conflict resolution, non- violence, etc. A second benefit is obviously the aspect of self-defense - shouldn't every high school girl learn Nikkyo? a third would be the possibilty of reaching out to those non- varsity type kids who need and desire something real and physical in their lives. My school has 1,600 students and maybe 400 are "varsity athletes." That leaves a lot of kids that go home every day......I also have very nice facilities built in - wrestling rooms with mats already in place, etc...maybe if the club really got going we could do a trip to Japan and train at a Dojo there for a week - now that would be a great field trip, no?
I have no broader ambitions beyond this idea of a club which would introduce students to aikido....definately not about money or ego.....I have plenty of that in Football.
This summer I am going to Tokyo to train for two months during my summer break. Hopefully that experience will help to develop my foundations physically and spiritually for my future plans....
I do think there are some parallels between football and aikido- we do many things to attack a person's balance or prevent them from doing so....anyway, I digress.....
I have already been to three seminars - the ASU Cherry Blossom festival with Saotome Sensei, then an USAF seminar at MIT, and finally a third local one.
Beginners' mind? absolutely......
thanks again all.

05-31-2004, 09:22 PM

My advice is to start something the moment you get back from Japan. I wouldn't get too ambitious, say once a week, but if the mats are in place and you are willing - go for it. It is very important though to keep training with your teachers and keep them in the loop. I am sure that if you asked the right way a more advanced student could actually do the teaching or at least come every now and then. At the very least have the students tested by your instructor.

The key is to be really careful to teach what you know rather than what you think you know. This is not so difficult as it sounds since all you really have to do is limit yourself to the techniques that you are learning for your next and past gradings. There is plenty of things to do. One of my responsibilities here is to take someone of equivalent rank and make sure he is trained up to pass the exam with me. Circumstances allow me to travel to the main dojo more often. It really is the same situation you find yourself in.

Finally the only red flag in your post is the I think that the thing that appeals to me the most is the deeper philosophy of aikido which would align with many of our broader curriculum goals in terms of teaching students Japanese history, conflict resolution, non- violence, etc.. It is my experience that beginning students often think they understand what Aikido is all about long before they do. I would make sure to concentrate on the physical. The philosophy often manifests itself through the physical training.

05-31-2004, 09:51 PM
Never stop learning or enjoying yourself.

Never lose Shoshin, beginner's mind.

far, far, by far, the best answer.