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David Humm
01-28-2005, 07:21 PM
Although I've been a student myself for this my 17th year, I have only recently (4 months ago) started my own dojo.

It's only since I've been solely responsible for running a dojo that student ability really became apparent to me. (I suppose its from sitting more often from the other side of the mat) I appreciate everyone learns at differing paces and, there's no specific time scales on gradings etc however, I'd like to hear your thoughts on how one deals with the long term aspects of having a student who is committed (turning up twice a week without fail) Who exudes enthusiasm yet, despite having everything an instructor might want in a student, no matter how many times one explains, demonstrates or teaches, nothing appears to stick.

The case in question, the student had studied for about two years, week in week out with another dojo but became disenchanted when he saw students with less time and experience being promoted before him. He came to me almost as soon as I started my dojo and even though I knew he'd been training for about two years his physical ability, co-ordination and general 'function' on the mat is.. well far behind any student I've known with two years committed study. Indeed I have another student from a surrounding dojo who trains with me to add in another night's training, likewise this person has about the same time under their belt and, the difference in general skills is very apparent.

My philosophy isn't skills or grade based so I personally have absolutely no problem with anyone training with me regardless of their ability however, equally so I don't believe in grading for grading's sake. I can see a point in time where I will have students ready to test yet the person in question will probably still be far behind them and eventually feel I am not being fair. (this is of course my assumption based on what happened before)

Being honest is a good policy, and I don't have an issue with being polite but honest and saying "you just aren’t up to standard at the moment" however, when I take into consideration the commitment this student has shown and is continuing to show by turning up and supporting what is after all a club in it's infancy, I feel torn in not wishing to exclude this person from future gradings. It is that obvious, his aptitude for the basics of Aikido movement is minimal and, as I've said it doesn't matter how many times I teach or re-teach something, even simple Tai Sabaki, he just looks like a week old beginner at times, it is very strange.

Looking forward to your comments

Kind regards

Dave

SeiserL
01-28-2005, 08:14 PM
IMHO, it sounds like his mental map has not progressed. This, where the physical training does not change the way one thinks, is why some direct mental training comes in handy. See about a prvivate session and find out what he is thinking while trying to do a skill. He may have taken Shoshin (beginner's mind) far too literally.

Qatana
01-28-2005, 08:28 PM
But some people DO actually have beginner's mind. My best friend trains at the dojo with me and she literally has to start from the beginning every single class. After ten or so months she still needs to be coached through "simple" exercises we do every week, such as tai no henko. She can execute a technique if she is coached through it but will immediately forget what she just did. Three more times.

If our dojo followed a syllabus where every technique is taught in sequence, giving students the time they need to absorb, she would retain a great deal more physical information, but as we operate more holographically, she has no continuity to build upon.

This was how she learned Morris Dancing, which has a lot of fancy steps and endless choreography to remember, but it was taught to her in a manner which she could absorb.Even she agrees that she would advance in physical aikido technique in that kind of envirnment, however it is Sensei and the environment he provides which keep her where she is.

However testing is not an issue for her, as a non-paying dojo member she considers herself a Guest of Sensei, and wouldn't accept an invitation to test even if she could retain enough information to do so.

David Humm
01-28-2005, 08:41 PM
IMHO, it sounds like his mental map has not progressed. This, where the physical training does not change the way one thinks, is why some direct mental training comes in handy. See about a prvivate session and find out what he is thinking while trying to do a skill. He may have taken Shoshin (beginner's mind) far too literally.Hi Lynn,
I've had a number of conversations with this student and I'm convinced he understands what's being said, but body function just doesn't seem to follow suit. I can place him in a group of similar experience (in time) and they'll be motoring on yet he'll struggle every time. I really feel for the guy because its obvious he loves doing Aikido, indeed he's never once complained that he thinks or feels he's doing badly or not so well as others so I'm out to keep this student at all costs (all but grading for grading's sake which I feel is unfair to everyone)
If our dojo followed a syllabus where every technique is taught in sequence, giving students the time they need to absorb, she would retain a great deal more physical information, but as we operate more holographically, Hi Jo,
I work from my organisation's training syllabus pretty much all the time, partly because this is my first venture into the realms of running a dojo so, I'm keeping things simple for the time being, once we've all found our feet I'll diverse to broaden our training so, I'm all but always running the classes to a format of Kihon.

Again, I see some form of problem with motor function, its just occured to me that he may well have a medical condition perhaps even he doesn't know of ?? Basic tenkan, irimi tenkan and backfoot irimi tenkan, all conerstones of aikido movement and even after two years of doing this he's wobberling around like its his first week or so in the art.

Dave

MaryKaye
01-28-2005, 08:48 PM
Is there any physical skill, inside or outside of aikido, that this student *does* have nailed down? If so, can you two work out why that one is different?

A medical problem doesn't sound impossible. There's a description in Oliver Sacks' _The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat_ of a woman who lost her sense of proprioception (body position sense) and had to relearn to sit, stand, etc. with great difficulty. A more subtle problem with proprioception, or the inner ear balance organ, or something interfering with the signals from brain to muscle, could really play havok with a person's aikido. If it's financially possible, a checkup by a specialist might be something to try.

Mary Kaye

maikerus
01-28-2005, 09:02 PM
One of the interesting challenges that I discovered when I started to teach was choosing what words to use with what students to draw upon their existing background, knowledge and ability. Some words help some students understand a concept amazingly but don't do a thing for someone else.

As an example its hard to tell someone that the reason we keep moving our hands and body in the same direction as the throw even after uke has fallen is for follow through and commitment, as in finishing a golf swing, when that student has never played golf. You have to find another analogy that will "click" with them.

Or some students plateau for a really long time, and then make huge strides.

It sounds like your case is more difficult than many, but finding out the background of the student and more about what they are good at may help. I sometimes remember things that my instructors said to me that didn't really help (because of my background) and try them out...amazingly enough that sometimes works. Lynn's suggestion of a private session is, I believe, a good one. You also might consider using video as a training tool.

Good luck!

--Michael

Adam Alexander
01-28-2005, 09:26 PM
Lack of focus is the problem.

I believe that the only way martial arts develops concentration is when a person forces themselves to focus. In order for this to happen, an instructor must not give too much help--actually, I'd say minimal assistance.

This is why I feel this way: I train under six instructors. I go to the beginner class, the regular classes, the advanced classes and train privately with a 20+yr veteran. Over my Aikido career, I've gone through periods where I train more with one instructor than the others. Every few months, it'd seem I was in someone else's classes more than the others.

Anyway, what I noticed is that when the instructor demonstrated the technique four or five times and then answered questions real friendly like, I got lazy. I didn't pay too much attention. My mind would wander and then when I caught it, I'd just say to myself,"ah, he'll show it again." However, there's one instructor who show's a technique two times. And if you ask questions, you really make sure they're not stupid before you ask them.

What happened? My focus was sharp as a tack when I trained more under that guy. Under the others, I was sloppy.


I see it with other students to. The beginners who are coddled perform like children--always looking to the instructor to make sure their foot's in the right spot. After a year of training, they still can't perform a very simple technique after it's been demonstrated.


Tell your student that HE needs to change. It's not the art, it's not the instructor, it's his problem that needs to be fixed....of course, do it in a nice way.

Focus and Practice.

David Humm
01-28-2005, 10:27 PM
Thank you for your continued comments,

The chap in question is an otherwise co-ordinated individual who has a reasonable job and displays a level of comon sense. If I give the guy a bokken he's able to swing it with some ability (I also study Iaido and incorporate Batto-ho into aikido sessions) but, he does have problems turning at speed, that is one thing I've noticed.

We have two large roof mounted punch bags in the dojo, we sometimes do a bit of bag work and when we do this he's straight in, during these sessions he's spot on, accurate with his punching and hits quite hard.

Unfortunately he does seem to be stuck in this 'ive just started' mode when we practice aikido. His ukemi is rough to say the least. I stress in almost all my classes the importance of good quality ukemi, we practice several exercises to improve confidence in the more dynamic overheads... This involves rolling over a Jo which is held at an angle (one end resting on the mat), progressively students grab the jo at higher levels thus their breakfall gets more 'overhead' bizarely the chap in question is very caperble of this type of exercise and performs good ukemi however, and this really bakes my noodle; after he's done a few of those overheads with the jo, if I do even basic kote gaeshi and he's collapsing on the floor like he'd never done ukemi before!!

Dave

maikerus
01-28-2005, 10:56 PM
Fear of falling is pretty normal. Some take longer to learn to hide it than others.

Qatana
01-29-2005, 08:52 AM
Jean,
Some people have medical conditions or learning disabilities which make it Impossible to focus in the way you mean.
My friend definitly has this and it sounds as though Dave's student does as well. And it may be something as simple as losing all sense of direction when turning, which could be neurological.Reading this thread makes me think that "turning" really might have something to do with it.
Sometimes patterning helps with this, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes similar problems have different solutions.

Pauliina Lievonen
01-29-2005, 09:24 AM
If I give the guy a bokken he's able to swing it with some ability (I also study Iaido and incorporate Batto-ho into aikido sessions) but, he does have problems turning at speed, that is one thing I've noticed.

We have two large roof mounted punch bags in the dojo, we sometimes do a bit of bag work and when we do this he's straight in, during these sessions he's spot on, accurate with his punching and hits quite hard.

... the chap in question is very caperble of this type of exercise and performs good ukemi however, and this really bakes my noodle; after he's done a few of those overheads with the jo, if I do even basic kote gaeshi and he's collapsing on the floor like he'd never done ukemi before!!
Dave

All of the above sounds a bit like it could still be a proprioceptive thing - he seems to perform better when there is something to focus on visually, and less well when he has to be aware of his movement and especially his lower body "from the inside" so to say. Most people have better control of their arms and upper body anyway IME, hands and arms are easier to see, plus we use them for handling things all the time. Legs are for many people just somethng to walk and sit on. Further away their awareness.

kvaak
Pauliina

rachmass
01-29-2005, 12:25 PM
Different people learn at different rates, plain and simple. Your fellow might very well be picking up a lot more than you realize, and it will gel at some point quite suddenly. Two times a week though is possibly not enough practice time. Do you offer more classes? You might suggest he practice more, or even simple tenkan and hamni at home (just something to teach his body over and over again). Could he be a student who needs primarily to learn through his body, and to shut off thoughts in his head (explaining, thinking too hard)?

We had a woman at our dojo who practiced for 8 years rather steadily (3-4 times a week), yet every new beginner treated her like a beginner. It had to do with possibly a form of drawfism, where her arms were much shorter than her body. Her movements for the first 4 years or so were quite rough, but towards the end of her practice (she's since quit), I had noticed a huge difference in her ability, and in that she had actually gained quite a center. What I am saying with this is that if you compared her against other folks who were more physically adept, that she might not look particularly able (from an outsiders perspective), but comparing her against herself and where she started, I would say she came along further than anyone else I knew in that time frame. She gained confidence, center and ability, and it worked well for her. My teacher did continually promote her, because he saw this massive progression.

To me, this example really is one of someone learning something more deeply, more to the core, than on the surface would show. Perhaps this will happen with your student as well.

Just my $0.02

David Humm
01-29-2005, 06:50 PM
Hey guys and gals... Thanks for your comments, always very much appreciated.

I'm going to have a good chat to this student when the opportunity presents its self and see what (if anything) he feels about his training. I am very humbled by those who wish to train and take instruction from me and although I see a potential problem as discussed in this thread, I intend to go out of my way to accomodate this student who has shown me loyalty and commitment.

Thanks again :)

Dave

senshincenter
01-29-2005, 09:57 PM
I think everyone has posted some very nice ideas, and I also think that you Dave have come up with a lot of insightful things as well. But what about this: two days a week is not enough for him, maybe not for anyone. What does two hours of practice get you in playing the guitar? What about in learning a language? Assuming you have one hour long classes - two hours out of every one hundred and sixty-eight - well - that's only going to support so much and for so long. Maybe you are already seeing that now. I mean, who would take only $2 out of every $168 one has earned? I hope no one. Yet a lot of folks seem quite willing to invest in just this sort of way when it comes time to training. At our dojo, two classes a week is the bare minimum for a member maintaining dojo membership. That's about all it will guarantee. Things are set up so that while one can expect not to have their membership revoked if they attend classes twice a week, they can't be expecting much more than that (e.g. to be carried through the ranks). So... Maybe the solution is having him, and/or encouraging him, and/or making it easier for him to attend more classes - and helping him to understand why he should as well.

d

rachmass
01-29-2005, 10:08 PM
you Dave have come up with a lot of insightful things as well. But what about this: two days a week is not enough for him, maybe not for anyone.

Hey, I suggested that already ;)

Seriously, 2 times a week is maybe a large part of the problem....

Best wishes on this.

David Humm
01-30-2005, 12:15 AM
Hey again :)

Unfortunately training twice a week is all that can be facilitated at the moment, issues such as the venue, my work and other dojo in the area all contribute to when and where we can essentially train.

I have one of three dojo in my area all training on different nights however, (and I know this will sound as if I'm sounding my own bells here but) I'm not the person who's building walls around their students making it difficult for people to train at other instructor's clubs. (Another long and pretty boring issue)

Potentially a student could train Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday if *IF* the instructors of the other clubs were willing to let "their" students train elsewhere (pretty pathetic really) but alas that isn't the case, sad, but true

I appreciate that training just twice a week isn't a vast amount, but even comparing the chap in question with other students with about the same time training (two years more or less) taking into account individual strengths and weaknesses, there really is a very obvious difference in ability however; as has been said, may be he's a very late bloomer.

The issue here isn't really how good or bad he is as a student, I really don't mind that aspect, what concerns me is that as other students (who by definition learn much quicker) become ready for testing, I can see a situation forming where he might feel like I'm passing him over (as happened at his last dojo)

My fear (for want of another expression) is that he'll become disenchanted again and quit, I really don't want that, as he's a good person to have in the club.

I think what I must do is chat to him as previously mentioned and perhaps set out a specific training regime for him which sets targets and defines aspects of training which he is clearly missing.

Ta very much for your continued thoughts :)

Dave

rachmass
01-30-2005, 07:18 AM
Dave, has the student progressed in comparison with where he started? Has he made improvement? Don't compare him with the other students; instead measure his own progress within himself. What rank are you testing him for (or not testing him)? There would be a vast difference IMNSO between gokyu and ikkyu test in terms of the absolutes you expect of your students.

Someone mentioned focus earlier in this thread, and perhaps preparing for a test can be a catalyst for focus. Maybe that is part of the problem, just like only being able to train twice a week. One more thought-do you have any kyu test videos from your organization that you can lend the student to study? Sometimes these can be quite helpful.

Kevin Kelly
01-30-2005, 02:11 PM
If you have any times where he can have an open practice session, maybe have him start preparing and practicing for his next test. My sensei says that people who want to test and prepare for testing usually end up having better Aikido than people who never bother testing. I have found for me, in my short Aikido career, that it helps to practice the syllabus material during an open class and it helps me solidify the techniques in my mind. I know you only have classes a couple of times a week, but maybe if he gets an experienced uke to work with it will help.

SeiserL
01-30-2005, 05:09 PM
Just brainstroming outloud because this topic really interests me; He appear to have genuine competent instructions. He appears to have honest motivation. He appears to actually get the mental idea of what he is to do. Then somehow, it isn't getting from the head to the body?

Hows his coordination? Perhaps, he can practice Tenskan Ashi-sabaki and skipping rope.

K Lynch
01-30-2005, 05:11 PM
I may be reading this wrong, but I think Dave was saying that -he- doesn't judge the student's progress, or perceived lack thereof, but he was worried that the student might think he was, and give up on this dojo as well.

Speaking as another of those unfortunate students for whom mental pictures do not translate at all well to accurate body movement, I thank you for trying hard with him, as my Sensei/assistant instructors/anyone ever who has tried to improve my ukemi have with me.

In my case, I know why I have trouble with my aikido - a combination of minor birth defects, irritating illnesses and increasingly dodgy knees. But still, very now and again, I get down when I see people who joined 3 months ago execute ukemi, body movements or techniques with far greater ease than I ever have. And of course, they grade. I'm a 6th kyu (in a school that starts at 7th) and I've been at this about 3 years. But, as I say, I -know- why I find so many things difficult. Perhaps some would say, I have an excuse.

As some people have pointed out, try and encourage him to concentrate on -his- progress. It's obvious he finds this difficult, but still enjoys it, or he wouldn't still be doing aikido anywhere.... what has anyone else to do with that? I know that's easier said than done (to put it mildly!) but it is always worth keeping in mind on the bad days. And if - again, like me, I'll admit - he insists he hasn't made any progress, try and prove that he has. You say he finds some parts quite easy, - perhaps try and find out why?

*is going to stop rambling now...*
Regards
Karen

David Humm
01-30-2005, 06:14 PM
Dave, has the student progressed in comparison with where he started? Has he made improvement? Don't compare him with the other students; instead measure his own progress within himself. What rank are you testing him for (or not testing him)? There would be a vast difference IMNSO between gokyu and ikkyu test in terms of the absolutes you expect of your students.

Rachel, Yes my student has 'improved' but if compared with others who've trained for the same period (around two years) his general standard is very below par. As you say tho if I compare what he does now compared to when I first saw him join in his original dojo, yes there's an improvement.

Just brainstroming outloud because this topic really interests me; He appear to have genuine competent instructions. He appears to have honest motivation. He appears to actually get the mental idea of what he is to do. Then somehow, it isn't getting from the head to the body?

Hows his coordination? Perhaps, he can practice Tenskan Ashi-sabaki and skipping rope.

Lynn, your brainstorming is spot on :) His co-ordination is, I think, the main problem but he doesn't seem to have a problem outside the dojo which suggests to me its an 'Aiki' thing rather than a physical or medical issue (but that’s just my non medical opinion of course)

I may be reading this wrong, but I think Dave was saying that -he- doesn't judge the student's progress, or perceived lack thereof, but he was worried that the student might think he was, and give up on this dojo as well.

Karen, Well yes and no. I am judging his standards or should I say "monitoring" them as an instructor should with his/her student(s) however, I realise that he appears to be less dynamic in his ability to assimilate the teachings. I don't have a problem with this at all, I understand that every person learns at differing speeds, and his speed is unduly slower than others but, where I am concerned is in that as a dojo we run gradings on an annual basis when my Shidoin visits us, I'm concerned that given his slower learning curve he will feel left out, I have a number of students whom I'm very lucky to (have) and say are quite natural movers and their ability is quickly surpassing that of the chap in question.

I've formulated a plan involving a separate training regime. I'm going to speak with my Shidoin and let him know the situation and, perhaps we can set up gradings when required that will be between those we normally hold, that way he won't feel left out of the progression "thing"

Regards to all as always


Dave

senshincenter
01-30-2005, 10:21 PM
Ah yes, apologies Rachel for the unnecessary repetition. My oversight.

If I can go on a bit…

I think there are two issues and, up to now, or mostly, we have been trying to deal with the easier one. There is the issue of addressing his capacity to improve and trying to somehow increase that capacity. That is the easy one (even though it is proving to be quite difficult). Then there is the issue of being discouraged and/or dissatisfied with one’s own rate of progress. This latter issue is really the big one – in my opinion. Its solution can only come from a total re-cultivation or transformation of the self. By that I mean to say that such issues can only be reconciled by cultivating a deep, valid, and creative experience of self and/or self-identity. On the positive side, that is supposed to be a big part of training. Some folks, and I have to include myself as one of them, would even say that that is the main part of training. Thus, while I think it is of course important to get him to train more and to train more efficiently, things I think you are doing (and doing quite well considering the circumstances), I also think he would benefit greatly from penetrating and/or having more access to penetrate the art and its nature more deeply. In that way, he can move beyond the superficiality of group-measured progress and institutionally imposed labels. In that way, he can move beyond what is meaningless to that which is real and vital.

How does an instructor lend his/her expertise toward this part of training? I would say, the easiest thing to do is to use the remaining five days of the week to educate him on or to inform him of the depths of Budo. For example, you can have group readings with him and the rest of your students – read the classics that are readily available in English (e.g. Osensei, Kung-Tzu, Lao Tzu, Takuan, Musashi, Yagyu, Ikkyu, Ryokan, etc.). Zero in on all those parts where the Sacred, the Real, the Deep, the truly valuable, etc., is being discussed and placed above the superficial, the mundane, the this-worldly, etc. Look into some modern thinkers – ones who have written on the hardships, the frustrations, the benefits, and the vital signposts of any spiritual journey (e.g. Merton, the Dalai Lama, Nouwen, Sawaki, Suzuki, Chodran, Hanh, etc.). Focus in on where the issues of patience, humility, endurance, and faith are touched.

This is something we do at our dojo, and though it works well here, I cannot say how well it will work for you in your environment. Our training environment sounds very different – and I am sure that context has a lot to do with the power of the message. I am just throwing it out as a suggestion. So, of course, I would think you would have to modify it to fit your situation. For what it is worth, I put a lot of such sensei/deshi encounters (which are vital to an instructor’s own growth – in my opinion) in our “Exchanges” section under the “Writings” link of our web site. There are many other writings on patience, frustration, etc., in the other sections as well. Perhaps you, or your student, might find something useful there too.

I want to wish you the best of luck, but I also want to say how impressed I am by the concern and directed efforts you have made thus far regarding this situation. It is inspiring. Let us hope it is contagious as well. All instructors should act thusly. So thank you.

david

maikerus
01-30-2005, 10:36 PM
Then there is the issue of being discouraged and/or dissatisfied with one's own rate of progress. This latter issue is really the big one -- in my opinion. Its solution can only come from a total re-cultivation or transformation of the self. By that I mean to say that such issues can only be reconciled by cultivating a deep, valid, and creative experience of self and/or self-identity. On the positive side, that is supposed to be a big part of training.

Interesting point.

I'm reading "Moving Toward Stillness" by Dave Lowry right now and one of the points he brings up in one of the essays is that our culture's concept of time is so much more immediate than that in the past.

We think in hours and minutes instead of weeks and years for getting something done. So, even though we all know that studying budo is a lifelong commitment and that we will take years and years to understand only a little, we still worry about our "rate of progress" in terms of months instead of years.

Perhaps the "re-cultivation or transformation of the self" you mention should also include recognizing that progress takes time and to change our concept of time to include years and decades.

I haven't really digested everything in this book, but I thought this idea might be an interesting point in this thread.

cheers,

--Michael

senshincenter
01-31-2005, 01:12 AM
Hi Michael,

Yes, I would definitely agree with your take on what I was trying to convey. I would also agree that any change in self-identity is going to have to include a transformation in how Time is experienced - which is why I tried to mention things like patience, humility, endurance, and faith. Training, I feel, is supposed to cultivate these things. And from what I can garner in the original post, this kind of stuff has maybe not been addressed as much as it could or should by the deshi in question. Thus, his training might be well served by a venture or by a deeper venture into such things.

Thanks for developing this point further.

d

SeiserL
01-31-2005, 03:27 PM
Lynn, your brainstorming is spot on :) His co-ordination is, I think, the main problem but he doesn't seem to have a problem outside the dojo which suggests to me its an 'Aiki' thing rather than a physical or medical issue (but that's just my non medical opinion of course)

IMHO, rhythm train, meaning, show him a 90-degree and 180-degree Ashi-sabaki Tenkan pattern. Have him put on some music with a slow easy beat. Have him work the footwork with the music. Its a lot like dancing. He can also shadow-box by going through techniques with a definite beat and rhythm.

Also, skipping rope really helps with the coordination.

Qatana
01-31-2005, 05:07 PM
Lynn, I don't know about David's student but my friend wouldn't even be able to do basic tenkan over & over unless someone was telling her "put your foot here, put your foot there", or at least someone to follow.. So "going through techniques" would be out of the question.
I'm interested in this concept of how perception of time would affect learning ability- my friend has absolutly no sense of duration.It is always "now" and she cannot objectively differentiate between the passage of five minutes or five hours. She has no problem with intellectual concepts, she is a skilled goldsmith and calligrapher, among other things, she is a vast storehouse of trivia, but she simply cannot do aikido, at least the way it is taught in our dojo.Yet she has a very deep understanding of the philosophical concepts, and is pretty darn good at "verbal" aikido.

senshincenter
01-31-2005, 06:27 PM
I would mean it like this: A new particular experience of self, one that would demonstrate what we would call the right kind of patience, the right kind of endurance, the right kind of humility, the right kind of faith, etc., would allow for one to experience Time in a new or different way from an experience of self where these virtues are not present.

A person who has the right kind of patience would not feel discouragement because Time has passed. Rather, they would know that training in fact presumes that time MUST pass. They understand that Time passing is the key ingredient to the maturing process. A person who has the right kind of endurance would not measure success or failure according to how much Time has passed. A person who holds the virtue of endurance knows that any real sense of training can only be based upon how much more you are willing to do, not how much you have done. Such a person does not look to Time in order to see where they have been, but rather they experience Time as a potential of what they can and will be. A person who has the right kind of humility does not allow themselves to be defined by others. Rather they understand themselves according to an ideal, only they accept that having an ideal (e.g. "mastering Aikido") means never achieving it, but working toward it nonetheless. When a person has the right kind of faith, they face the unknown (which includes the future) not with despair and doubt but with hope. Hence, Time always means more opportunity, not less.

When I hear of a student that has already left one dojo because he didn't think he was learning enough to remain, that then goes on to another dojo and is ready to do the same based upon how he thinks he is standing up against others, etc., who's only training two hours a week, and all the rest, I tend to feel that this student is in need of the right kind of patience, the right kind of endurance, the right kind of humility, and the right kind of faith -- so that he can have a different experience of self, so that they can have a different experience of Time. If one gets the most efficient pedagogy going, so that this person can learn and learn at a rate that he is most satisfied with, but that does not address this sense of self, I would think this person is not getting all that he could or should be getting out of training. This person would be much better off cultivating patience, humility, endurance, and faith, and still not being able to tenkan, than if he was able to only tenkan. With patience, humility, endurance, and faith, sooner or later he will be able to tenkan, and more importantly, he will be able to do so much more (in and outside of the art). Without these things, though he can tenkan, when it comes to irimi, or when it comes to the forward breakfall, or when it comes to spontaneous training, etc., this student will again feel "pressured" to quit as he would again be confronting his own demons unarmed. This is why I suggested that it would probably be best to keep working with or addressing his learning issues as directly as possible but also work on developing within him a new experience of self and of what learning is and/or is not.

In our dojo, we have a one woman who took over a year to learn how to do a standing forward roll. Her patience, humility, endurance, and faith, which she worked to cultivate all throughout that first year, served her well and continue to serve her well. Today, she is an inspiration to the entire dojo. As is expected, her waza is now very powerful, and these virtues are definitely the source of that power. She continues to face the trials of improvement via these virtues so her Aikido continues to become more sophisticated. Outside of the dojo, she is a single mother of two who nearly dropped out of high school when she was younger but now is going on to get her college education, about to transfer into the University of California with nearly a 4.0 gpa. When life gets hard, as you can imagine it will with being a full-time student and a single parent at the same time, you can bet she faces everything with the same patience, endurance, humility, and faith.

david

David Humm
01-31-2005, 06:37 PM
Hi guys,

I see my post has generated some thought process, I wanted to thank everyone again for their comments and I now feel I have a way forward, please don't think me rude if I don't interject further even though you guys may continue to discuss the aspects within the thread.

Dave

SeiserL
01-31-2005, 07:09 PM
I'm interested in this concept of how perception of time would affect learning ability.
Without going into too much detail, there is an internal conceptualization of a time line. The typical if left past, center present, and right future. Some people have it reversed. Others have it future front, present inside, and past behind. this orientation does not allow for sequencing of events. If the time times are too tight, there is only the now with the past and present collapse into it.

Steve Mullen
02-15-2005, 12:09 PM
hi dave IM very very very HO (im only a 4th kyu) i would have to agree that it is the time issue that is the big problem. at first i thought the person you were talking of was a person i train with who lives in lincolnshire but goes to university in sunderland but trains in a local dojo whenever he is home.

i started at the same time as this student yet i have progressed 'through the ranks' quicker than him and have been able to grasp more techniques and ukemi. while i was honoured to be asked to go for each of my gradings i couldn't help but think that this must be putting pressure on him and making him wonder why he wasn't grading.

however, the time eventually came wehn our sensei saw enough to put him in for his 6th kyu with a higher sensei in our organisation. in the build up to his grading his technique, poise, balance, basicly everything he needed and lacked seemed to improve 500% to the extent that when he took his grading he impressed the sensei so much he was asked to take his 5th kyu straight away, which he also passed.

so what i guess im trying to say is that if you stress the importance of the Shidoin's visit it may make something click (in much the same way as the prospect of grading did with the person i mentioned)

well, thats my 2penneth worth
steve

Amir Krause
02-16-2005, 09:50 AM
Rachel, Yes my student has 'improved' but if compared with others who've trained for the same period (around two years) his general standard is very below par. As you say tho if I compare what he does now compared to when I first saw him join in his original dojo, yes there's an improvement.

Dave

I believe you should also think on another issue with regard to grading - grading does not necessarily equal level. If you have a disabled student, who gives a lot of dedication, and has shown great improvement compared to himself, hen he does deserve some positive feedback, and in Aikido, this normally means grading.

At least the way I have always been told, the grading is for ones efforts and progress, not for ones level. Recently, my teacher even used to tell of a teacher who failed an advanced student his 4 Dan test. Since though the test was good and above the required standard, it was the same as the 3 Dan test...

If the reasons for this students progress are not a matter of dedication and effort, and he his doing all he can, including practicing outside the class. Then perhaps he deserves to grade even better then a supremely talented student who has achieved a much higher level with no difficulty.

Amir

jonreading
06-01-2005, 03:38 PM
Difficult students are always a challenge. I hear lots of comments to help Dave's student improve. The other side of the problem is that Dave's dilemna is to ignore the students's learning deficiency by promoting him, or acknowledge the deficiency and risk losing the student. I hate this kind of issue. As an instructor, approaching the student may allow another angle to look at things. Sometimes students don't realize what they are doing wrong and no one wants to admit when they are inferior at anything...

On the other hand, I am uncomfortable with handing out rank just because someone shows up. Rank certification is reserved to qualify students that demonstrate proficiency in a martial art. Proficiency is usually associated with development and dedication, but I don't think development and dedication necessarily means rank. It is a fine line to walk, but there is a difference.

Encourage this student to understand that you want to reward his efforts, and that you are willing to work with him to get there. Certificates only have value if the possesor felt he/she earned it and can live up to the expectations of possessing it.

Ketsan
06-02-2005, 06:43 AM
There's a guy in our dojo that's like that. After nearly 2 years of training he still (apparently) bearly knows anything and really struggles. To look at him you'd think he was on his 2nd or 3rd lesson. The weird thing is that on gradings he suddenly comes to life and looks pretty damn good. We sat all through his 6th kyu in total shock because not only did he obviously know the stuff but he obviously new it well. He looked like a 4th kyu or something. The next day back in the dojo, however, it was back to usuall he couldn't even do ikkyo and so this apparent mental block carried on until his 5th kyu grading and suddenly again he put on a stellar performance.

aikidocapecod
06-02-2005, 11:52 AM
If I might make a suggestion......I have tried this in the past and it was very enlightening to me. I run a small class on Cape Cod. I have had a couple students that also seem to just not get it.....but they come to class(every class)...they seem to enjoy class and the people with whom they train. But some of the basics....they just cannot do.

What I have tried is.......I announce that next week, each person in class will teach a technique. Each person will get up in front of the class....discuss the technique, call up Uke and demonstrate the technique. Then go around while the technique is being practiced and help each group.

When one is thrust into that position, it was amazing the focus they were able to put forth. I saw them exceed what I thought they were capable of. And they also, I think, exceeded what they thought they could do. And after that experience, they did progress.

It may be worth trying.....

jonreading
06-03-2005, 08:19 AM
Larry,

I like that idea...

G Sinclair
06-03-2005, 08:51 AM
OK while I am reluctant to post, I feel I have a point of view that may be important to this thread.

I guess you could call me a newbie even though I have studied Aikido in the past. Eight weeks ago I rejoined the dojo and I train everyday. While my effort and desire to succeed in Aikido is very strong it is quite a blow to hear a Sempai ask me if I have been to only a few classes. My slow advancement is, quite honestly, to be expected as I have dealt with it all my life. It does however take a toll on the spirit and enthusiasm.

I am dyslexic. I often see things in reverse order and/or upside down. This means the pictures in my head need some fixing before I can properly get my body to do what I am really trying to do.
But this is not an excuse; we all have our crosses to bear and this is mine. However, I refuse to let it hold me back. I know what I need to do to learn but it in Aikido it is very difficult. I must find someone around me that has the extreme patience and understanding required for my learning process to work. (Not to mention it is rather embarrassing explaining this to someone.)

Let me explain:
When I was young I really wanted to play football, so I signed up and made the team on simple athletic ability, but had a real problem learning the playbook. It was not the memorization; it was the fact that as a running back I ran the plays backwards. Instead of running ‘36 blast’ I was headed to the wrong side of the center. It was humiliating and almost got me cut from the team. At the same time a teacher of mine was trying to figure out why I read so slowly and had real issues with certain letters (b’s, d’s, p’s and q’s in particular). She discovered I read much faster and accurate if the book was upside down. She discovered my problem and gave me a repetitious learning plan that helped me read better and see letters properly. Using her repetition formula towards football, I lined up trashcans in my back yard to represent the offensive line and placed cards on the ground labeling the holes. I ran threw them thousands and thousands of times, and found I needed to be more aware of small details, like which foot moved first and which hand needed to be higher than the other. Eventually, I did not need the signs and found myself as the starting running back when the season opened.

This formula is how I have conquered every struggle dyslexia has thrown at me. It does however; require strict repetition to teach myself. In Aikido I am struggling as we spend minutes practicing a technique instead of the hours of repetition I need.

It is embarrassing and I am sure frustrating to any Sensei as I have to repeatedly attempt the same movement to see it fall into place properly in my head regardless of his/her wise instruction. The circular movements seem to bring out the worst and find myself struggling to see it properly and put it together.

I won't give up as long as they allow me to train. Currently when I get home at night after the kids are in bed I clear room in my kitchen and remember one technique from today’s class. I practice that technique with an imaginary uke for hours….

Perhaps what this deshi needs is some repetition to build on.

Sorry for the length of this post, I hope it helps him in some way.

One more thing: please do not give up on him.


Thanks for your time.

AaronFrancher
06-03-2005, 04:40 PM
This is a question i've been having in regards to students who have trouble concentrating. I've been doing the one-on-one instruction when I have the time, and it seems to work for awhile. However, they will always be behind the other students in their experience level. It's normal and the students must cope with that, as well as the instructor, no matter how difficult it is. I've found that because they have trouble focusing, even with special attention, their pace changes constantly from day to day. It's just another bump in the road, but your student and you can work it out over time. Repetition is also very important, even if it doesn't work well. It does help. I'd like to say more, but time is short and there are so many posts that are much better than my own. I just wanted to put in my piece and see how it goes, hope it helps.

tarik
06-03-2005, 04:45 PM
This formula is how I have conquered every struggle dyslexia has thrown at me. It does however; require strict repetition to teach myself. In Aikido I am struggling as we spend minutes practicing a technique instead of the hours of repetition I need.

This is key. I often feel like we don't allow people to spend enough time really understanding technique before we RUSH them off to another technique. I prefer to study or even lead a class in studying a single technique for the entire 1-2 hours we are training.

I bet everyone would learn better, learn faster, and understand more.

Tarik

Mark Uttech
06-07-2005, 07:27 AM
It is entirely possible to focus on each student too much, worrying about their progress, their strengths and weaknesses, so forth and so on.Each one student is on his/her own journey. Whether they stay and continue, or go only so far and move on, shouldn't be an over concern. Our own journey should be our concern, and if we are joined by others, well, that is our practice. In gassho.

aikidocapecod
06-07-2005, 08:16 AM
Mark,
You suggested that we should not be overly concerned with each individual student. That may be a valid point......but the student described in the original post seems to be a devoted hard working student.

I must, with respect to your opinion, disagree. In my opinion, a student that works that hard and tries is worthy of our concern.

I hope that when we judge a person, we do not look at only her/his Aikido ability. Rather, we should look at the entire person....but that is perhaps a different thread....

Mark Uttech
06-08-2005, 09:51 AM
A devoted, hard-working student is absolutely nothing to worry about. There's hills and valleys,and sometimes a surprising flash in the dark, like a firefly.

Suwariwazaman
04-24-2006, 10:05 AM
Hello just want to interject a little. I am a returning student, but when I left I had gone for my 5th kyu. I didnt receive my certificate yet. Does that mean I am not a 5th kyu, or can I recall my original application throught the USAF. I am not too concerned with the actual certificate but am concerned if I would have to repeat some stuff. Not that I mind at all, I just was curious.?

About the original thread. I remember working really hard to get ready for this big first test. I was nervous, because at the time i wasn't able to get infront of Sensei a whole lot. I was concerned for what he thought of me, and if he thought i was worth taking on the time to teach. I do believe I was learning at an even keel, but it is not for me to judge, its Sensei's! I know I would do anything that Sensei asked, with a good attitude, and focus. I was just wondering if when I go back will he look down on me, or will he welcome me back to teach again? What's your thoughts on this. Of course goign to ask him would probably where I would start?

Suwariwazaman
04-24-2006, 10:10 AM
I meant welocome me back to teach me again. Didnt mean to make it sound as if I was teaching. Sorry about that!

pezalinski
04-24-2006, 03:14 PM
This is key. I often feel like we don't allow people to spend enough time really understanding technique before we RUSH them off to another technique. I prefer to study or even lead a class in studying a single technique for the entire 1-2 hours we are training.

I bet everyone would learn better, learn faster, and understand more.

Tarik

In a word, 'NO.' 'Please, no.'
Not "never, no," but please not all the time.

IMHO, you cannot learn ANYTHING complex, all at one time (unless you are truly blessed). Actual learning requires multiple exposures, from multiple modalities, to learn any one thing really well. And repeatedly doing one thing over and over badly doesn't necessarily improve how well you perform it. They don't call iriminage the "20-year technique" for nothing.

Learning and performing one technique per class would frankly bore me to tears and frustrate me.

JMichaels
04-25-2006, 04:32 PM
This may sound crazy, but maybe try having a private session or have a senior student do it, but have the student in question teach the technique. Have them show/explain technique in great detail. Have them explain why and where the blending, off balancing, and eventual pin or throw is executed. Granted this takes a special kind of student, but it may draw some connections in their head. If it went really well, maybe they would draw some connections from technique to technique, like nikkyo can be the same opening as ikkyo and so on. This could make future teaching easier because the student could think this is just like xyz technique, but with an extra tenkan.

David Humm
01-08-2007, 09:23 AM
Dear friends,

It has recently been brought to my attention that one but possibly two members of my dojo, now resigned; may have taken offence at my posting the original content of this thread.

I would like to make it publicly known that my posting the original information was not intended with malice or ill-intent but, with a genuine desire to learn from other people's experiences and opinions on the enclosed subject. I posted here as a relatively new and somewhat inexperienced dojo leader, although I may have studied aikido for now approaching 20 years, I have only been responsible for running a club and, other people's progression for just under two and a half years thus; I am still on a learning curve.

I would thank everyone for contributing to this thread and providing me with the information I was essentially looking for, I also wish to again re-state that my post was not ill-intended.

The student referred to in my original post remains a committed and loyal student and someone I continue to assist on a regular basis.