View Full Version : How do you teach?

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06-27-2000, 11:33 PM
I know that teaching aikido is a learning process in and of itself and all, but I thought I'd ask those of you who have done it much longer than I have...

How do you teach? Do you step onto the mat with some inkling of something you want to show, check the reaction of the people in your class, and then continue on? Or do you walk in with a set lesson plan or a sort of "recipe" of sorts?

-- Jun

Chuck Clark
06-28-2000, 01:01 AM
I bow onto the mat and feel the group and it just comes. Obviously, some times it's better than others.

I try to always weave things into some sort of "theme" each class so it has a cohesive sense to it. It's always pretty much intuitive though, unless I'm doing a seminar where I want to cover some specific topics. I make some broad notes and usually lose them....

I think apprentice instructors should almost be like a tape recorder playing tapes of their teacher until they've developed some authority of their own. I have my kenshusei work up sets of note cards on all major basics such as: ukemi, shisei, shintai, etc. Then basic exercises, kata, etc. Use these cards for reference while on the mat if necessary. Teach principles, not your favorite way to do a technique. Develop strong basic tools in the students so they can "find" their own favorite ways.

Sheesh!...I'm windy tonight!

06-28-2000, 07:51 AM
OK, I'm only doing Aikido for two years...
I think you need to have an idea of what you've done to make sure that you're not teaching too little AND that you're repeating yourself enough for people to retain the basic principles.
My teacher sometimes demonstrates a very simple principle and adds a bit more to it throughout the class. By the end, the beginners haven't been lost anywhere and the more advanced students have learned an advanced technique. For a lot of things, it's a great way to learn.

06-30-2000, 03:51 PM
True, you need a good amount of experience to teach the waza. But what about other aspects? Just because a student can't teach the waza, doesn't mean they can't still be teachers in other ways to newcomers.

Think about it,


07-03-2000, 11:04 PM
akiy wrote:
How do you teach? Do you step onto the mat with some inkling of something you want to show, check the reaction of the people in your class, and then continue on? Or do you walk in with a set lesson plan or a sort of "recipe" of sorts?

-- Jun

I've found that the only thing worse than rigidly staying with a lesson plan is having no plan.

The problem with having a plan is that you never know who will walk through the door. You might be all set to get a couple of students high falling when 3 beginners walk in the door, announce that they want their free intro lessons and gee only 3 regular students showed that night. Oops!

I've also gotten drilled by not having any plan. So it seems a combination of both is in order. I need a plan but also the understanding that almost certainly the plan will hit the trash can at first student contact.

07-04-2000, 05:18 AM
Such a big question and also such cool answers...

Our dojo has a yondan who can only teach one class a week, and six other nidans/shodans teaching the other nights.

These other yudansha take turns - each has a different approach yet I feel it's through the contrasts in teaching styles that a technique's finer points can be taught. One teacher will use some great mental images to communicate footwork, while another teaches footwork by being everyone's uke - he introduces the technique quickly and travels around the class.

I think that the best lessons are the ones you enjoy teaching. When you're stimulated you begin to think of some great ways of teaching the technique.

My best classes are the ones where I get a chance to think about them for a week in advance. I glean ideas from my colleagues, aikido books, driving my car, reading aiki-stuff on the web, watching out my bedroom window etc. Finally I decide on what I'd like to teach the day beforehand, as well as ways to structure the class so that I can communicate those ideas best.

Of course if I'm given 10 minutes notice then it's a different story! Our dojo's Standard Formula, the class structure typically used, makes putting a class together potentially brainless and then the success of the class depends a lot more on how I'm feeling on the day. This is something I'm trying to work on. It's difficult to think of new and interesting ways to teach a familiar technique under pressure and if I don't feel motivated then I get teach the same old approach and get bored - even if the same old approach works!

So to summarise "How do I teach?" I'd say my best classes are ones that I've had time to get excited thinking about, if there's enthusiasm within there'll be enthusiasm without.

Hey Jun, I'd be interested in knowing - How do you teach?

Regards from

Liam - Uni of Western Australia Aikido

07-04-2000, 09:11 AM
liam wrote:
Hey Jun, I'd be interested in knowing - How do you teach?
Me? Some might say I teach haphazardly, undecidedly, and randomly. I can't say I've taught a whole lot, but I've enjoyed it when I've been asked to cover a class when necessary.

In the past I've taught classes that were "straight out of the cookbook" with a step-by-step lesson plan, but I felt really constricted by it. These days if I'm asked to teach, I usually go in with a concept or a "quality" that I want to show and see how it goes from there. I find that much easier than teaching the footwork to shihonage and other technical details since I don't like that kind of training too much...

-- Jun

Pete Nappier
07-25-2000, 02:52 PM
well i have read some of the remarks on teaching. and i must say some were good.

when i get on the mat (as with Clark Sensei) i feel the students/crowd and just let it come. i do have some sense of what my students can perform as far as kata (whoops i used a bad word) or should i say techniques. this is my job! they exspect me to know. don't plan your classes...i found out the hard way that if you plan then the students you planned to be there often were not. as in our training we never plan techniques, just respond to attacks.

also, and i emphasize this in my classes, i allow 15 to 20 minutes at the end of class to teach conflict resolutions (esspecially to my kids classes). we tell stories, play games and have role plays to help children understand conflict such as bullys. understanding is the first step to a peaceful end to all conflict. we offer students 12 non-violent alternatives to resolve conflict before it escaltes to a physical level.

hope this helps
pete nappier
foothills budokai association

07-25-2000, 08:01 PM
Pete Nappier wrote:
we offer students 12 non-violent alternatives to resolve conflict before it escalates to a physical level.

Hey Peter I'd be quite interested to read what those 12 alternatives might be... both for my own teaching and perhaps a future kids class that we might be running next year.

liam - Uni of Western Australia Aikido

Pete Nappier
07-26-2000, 07:09 AM
well liam
i guess i should begin with...this is a program designed by Dr. Terence Webster-Doyle for children and adults. the cirriculum that he has developed is based on conflict resolution such as Terry Dobson wrote about in his book "aikido in everyday life: giving in to get your way". in recent years i have tried to get my younger students to read that work, but most of them wouldn't make it past the first chapter...too complex for them. the 17 books Dr. T has writen are mostly for children and kids respond extremely well to them. this is and exciting way for you to teach children the true essence of aikido or any martial art for that matter. Martial arts were developed for use on the battlefeild and we do teach the physical skills, but too often children have to face a battlefeild of sort in the life everyday. it might be at the home, school, or just down the block.
in dr t's program we offer students an alternative such as making freinds with (and i should enterject one thing here that in the first level of the cirriculum dr t addresses the problem of bullys in school) the bully or maybe use trickery, or mabye call in authority, to give you some examples.
now how do we as instructors teach this to our students? that's the hard part...we do it with games, stories, and role plays. the role plays are a big hit in my classes. this gives the student an understanding of want deeper problem "haunts" a bully and allows them to use their mind first and then if it gets to the physical level the student has the cofidence and the skill to take an opponent down and still calmly speak to them. by defusing the problem which is the deeper resaon for the conflict, the student can contro9l the situation before it turns violent.

now the physical skills are taught in a manner that allows the student to understand that they are being attacked by another human being and that they must take care of that person. in this way they understand that life is fragile and during the attack they have that attackers life in their hands.
we teach our students that hurting someone is easy...but caring for someone is just as easy.

if you want more info on the cirriculum(and i highly recomend it for all instructors who want to teach true budo) here is the website:
or you can email the director Kimber at: mapp@veriomail.com

the name of the program is Martial Arts Partners for Peace. mention my name, it won't carry any weight but atleast they will know how you found out. i must warned you, it takes a process to get into this organazation, but it is very worth while. thanks for your questions?

pete nappier

07-27-2000, 08:23 PM
hey pete, thanks for the link and comments. there's a fair bit of stuff on the site and if/when we get our kids class up and running it'll be handy to know a place for sourcebooks on teaching kids martial arts.

regards from liam

07-27-2000, 10:29 PM
I am a 14 year old teen who has been training for quite a while. Approx. 5 years consideringmy age of course. Some time ago, I decided to help at one of the children classes. :) When I usually help newer students, I usually demonstrate step by step, showing part of techniques to a student and then adding on. The thing I would like to ask is that sometimes, children being the type of people they are, which rarely happen, tend to misbehave. Usually on the weekend classes when sensei is at a workshop or seminar. One of adult helpers usually teach the class and I help. This rarely happens, but children do misbehave. I have no problem telling the younger students are fooling around, but it is the punishing that bugs me. Not major punishing, but like sitting at the side for a few minutes. I not the only one that feels this way. Many of the other adult helpers seem to feel this way too.

Anyone please check my spelling, punc., grammer, etc.


Pete Nappier
07-28-2000, 10:33 AM
i have taught kids for years( about 20) and i started teaching just like you. helping new students fresh off the street gave me some excellent defensive skills, but there is so much more to teaching children. i handle a lot of add and adhd kids and they are difficult at times. one is the sempai in his class.

when teaching kids remember that they are smaller than you. dont critizie the person just the activety. and they will remember everything...good and bad. if you let one get away with something, exspect the rest will behave the same way. discipline them is not a bad thing only if it is misused. i usually give 15 to 25 pushups depending on the class (young or older). this physical enough that they will remeber it. if it becomes a problem i speak to them after class. if it continues (which it usually doesnt) they are suspended from class after a talk with the parents as well.

the best remedie for misbehavior is set good examples yourself... and also play games with them that are aikido related. this keeps them focused on aikido and stress that application of the event.

hope this helps.

pete nappier

Dan Hover
08-26-2000, 12:52 PM
perception and intuition, usually I have an idea over a certain application of a technique, whether it be advanced or basic, makes no difference, I have a goal in mind of what I want to do or teach, but when I arrive at the dojo I have to assess the skill level of the students that are there. Can we all accomplish what I want to do. If so I take the technique and break it down into similiar yet more basic techniques that will build to the final technique, I try to keep one thing constant throughout class, whether it be, footwork, handwork or response, keeping one thing constant makes it easier on them to understand subsequent movements and they see how important and limitless even the basics are.

Dan Hover