View Full Version : Poll: How deficient is your instructor's abilities in teaching aikido to you?

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11-06-2005, 12:30 AM
AikiWeb Poll for the week of November 6, 2005:

How deficient is your instructor's abilities in teaching aikido to you?

I don't do aikido
Totally deficient
Very deficient
Somewhat deficient
Not very deficient
Not at all deficient

Here are the current results (http://www.aikiweb.com/polls/results.html?poll_id=297).

11-06-2005, 02:16 PM
If there is a deficiency, in 11 years I haven't seen it.

Jeanne Shepard
11-06-2005, 08:31 PM
The question seems oddly worded.

Jeanne :(

Rupert Atkinson
11-07-2005, 12:14 AM
When I first went to Japan I looked around to find a dojo and was rather surprised. Until then, everyone with a Japanese face was an expert - so I thought / assumed. What I saw (after ten years of training) was:

1 Teacher not so good, students bad
2 Teacher not so good, students good
3 Teacher good, students bad
4 Teacher good, students good

All types are out there, even in Japan. I have to say though, in Japan most teachers are above average. In the West, there used to be fewer really good ones around but these days that has changed since more people have done Aikido for longer periods.

(Of course, what is good and what is bad is purely subjective - but I'll add that I have met people in Japan and Korea who have quit their arts on seeing ... ... ... dream destroyed, reality kicks in)

11-07-2005, 08:37 AM
If we conducted the poll ďHow deficient are your studentsí abilities in learning aikido from you?Ē would the results be reversed? As a student I like to take an open mind to every class. If I go to a class with expectations that the instructor does not meet is the instructor deficient? As an instructor, if a whole class is not getting what Iím teaching then I think about what Iím doing wrong. If a single student is not getting it then I think about other ways that might work to get my lesson across. How do you think a studentís ability to learn aikido from their instructor affects the result of this poll? How much responsibility should an instructor take for a studentís deficiencies? I would certainly not put myself in the class of not at all deficient, but I would like a more positive sounding rating that did not include the word deficient. I feel bad enough on days when my class size is small or new people try a class and decide Aikido is not for them.

11-07-2005, 12:16 PM
The question would seem to be skewed -why would anyone stay with a teacher that was totally deficient of quite a bit deficient?

11-07-2005, 02:27 PM
The question is provocative on purpose I think.

To me it assumes I know the goal of the teaching. Tough call.

I am fortunate though, we are 'team taught'. Deficiencies in one, are made up for by other instructors - wonderful. I'm lucky in that I think I know the goal of the training, having been good at judo once and now injured. Or maybe I am a cheat - I am trying to regain skill I once had - maybe I am the lousy student!!

Zen Flesh, Zen Bones - falling on my zen kiester.


11-07-2005, 02:55 PM
Strange question.

My teachers come from various backgrounds; the ones with formal training in teaching Aikido certainly have a larger repetoire of tricks and techniques to get things across, and seem to find teaching easier. There are a few items--the "faceplant ukemi" comes to mind--where none of them have a teaching technique and they feel at a loss if asked to teach it rather than just demonstrate it. (This ukemi tends to be learned by observation of the senior students instead.) I guess those are "deficiencies" but there is so much to aikido that it seems unlikely anyone has fully developed strategies to teach every single bit.

I was remarkably slow to learn to forward roll, and my teachers diligently researched new ways to teach this skill--most of which didn't work, but I appreciated the amount of effort that went into it. I think that learning new tools when the old ones don't work is as much as could be asked of a teacher, and I'm proud of mine for doing so.

I have met people from whom I found it difficult to learn, but unless all of their students had that experience, I would tend to call that a student/teacher mismatch, not a deficiency. Expecting any teacher to be great for *all* students is, in my opinion, unrealistic.

Mary Kaye

Chef CJ
11-07-2005, 09:02 PM
Since I am still learning, any deficiency would be hard to spot to begin with..

Secondly, who would I be to determine any deficiency of any person in Aikido. I may not understand why another person may do things the way they do or may not have learned it in that way but that is no place for me to decide deficiency.

We are all students no matter how far along we are.

Thanks for the time,


Keith R Lee
11-07-2005, 09:23 PM
Since I am still learning, any deficiency would be hard to spot to begin with..

Secondly, who would I be to determine any deficiency of any person in Aikido. I may not understand why another person may do things the way they do or may not have learned it in that way but that is no place for me to decide deficiency.

We are all students no matter how far along we are.

Thanks for the time,


Of course everyone should maintain the concept of shoshin shogai. However that does not mean one cannot look at a person and evaluate their skill level. Of coruse this is difficult for the rank beginner but through practice one slowly acquires the ability to notice the diffeneces and subltities that set people apart. This holds true in anything: Football, Poker, Track & Field, etc. Therefore, to say that no one is able to judge the talents of another within Aikido is a bit erroneous in my opinion.

There are definitely differnt levels of ability anf teaching (two seperate categories in my mind) in the Aikido world. Some teachers are going to be better than others. And while loyalty is important, if a student truely desire to learn all of Aikido they can; to grow wider and deeper in the art, than they are probably going to have to move beyond their initial instructor in the art. Not to mention that the goal of any dedicated instructor should be to make thier students better than they have become. An instructor should guide the student past the mistakes and pitfalls they have made in order to ensure that the student grows and moves forward at a rate they were not able to do so.

If, after training for a significant period of time, a student comes to the conclusion that their instructor is not providing them with this level of instruction, I see no problem with making the decision to move on. If there is the opportunity to do so.

11-07-2005, 09:37 PM
My teacher should speak better English :p

Chef CJ
11-08-2005, 06:06 AM
I am of course "new " to Aikido. I am able to judge skill levels of the people I practice with. My Sensei, although he would beg to differ, has no deficiency that I can see.

I beleive that part of the spirit of Aikido is not to judge but to learn. If I see something that is not working the way it should, from myself or anyone else, I try to not incorporate that in my Aikido. It is not a deficiency , just a technique that is not done being honed or developed.

Part of O Sensei's teaching was not to question or judge others around you but to continue in your own study of Aikido. This is my way of doing just that. Everyone else can and does have their own way to be sure. That is what makes Aikido great for me.

Thank You for your time,


David Yap
11-08-2005, 11:38 AM
Frankly, I don't see the objective of this poll. What is the relevance of the results. Culturally, the expectations of a teacher is very different - West vs East. Even the definition of an instructor and definition of a teacher are not the same. The instructor's role is to give instructions as in: "You do what I say or show you"; education is a bonus depending on the students' luck in choosing a dojo. It is like buying a car, either it goes into a workshop after a year's use or after a week's use.

The teacher's objective is to ensure that the students acquire an understanding and appreciation of the instructions. It requires intelligence from the teachers as well as intelligence from the students. It also requires attitude: from the teacher to teach and from the student to learn. A good teacher must have good communications skill. Some do it so naturally even not speaking the same language, merely communicating with their hands and body gestures. Some are so revealing and eager to depart their knowledge. Some just do not explain and are quick to leave the mat/dojo on the dot of the hour - either they are selfish with their knowledge or the lack of it (one cannot share one does not have).

But one can only judge or pick out the teachers from the instructors by having a mix of instructors/teachers at the same or different dojo and even attending seminars. Some dojo produce good quality shodan at the shortest time while some produce bad quality shodan at the longest time. Some never produce a shodan at all.

How would you poll now?

David Y

11-09-2005, 01:01 PM

I think the purpose of the poll was the result gained - our discussion!

I don't remember when, but I was asked to teach a student to roll out, sorry, perform forward rolls. I decided not to 'get in the way' with my own fears and preconceptions. I told this man to bend his knees, place his little finger on the mat, like so. I ran my hand from his shoulder to his hip, and said make contact along this line - and fall forward like this - he was rolling out in under ten minutes.

Good teacher? NO. Momentarily pure teacher who got out of the student's way. (Now if I could take my own advice I'd have something)


11-10-2005, 10:07 AM
He does not give me his Undivided Attention 100% of the time!

Adam Huss
11-10-2005, 04:12 PM
A truly great teacher, who has mastered some part of himself*, should inspire his students and make others feel better when they are around him. Aikido teachers should have a good understanding of technique yet also posses good teaching skills as well. There have been seminars taught by high-ranking instructors where I, along with the other students, have left the mat grumpy and frustrated. This is not good, no matter what rank or skill level the instructor has. Remember, aikido waza has very little practical use. We are doing this to better ourselves. Technique is a byproduct, a tool for forging ourselves to become better individuals. My teacher adamentally talks about the ultimate goal of aikido being bliss, happiness for no reason at all....happiness that isn't attached to people or material objects. This can't happen without some sort of formalized training, be it aikido or whatever your choice may be. One thing that I find deficient in many schools teaching is that they do not discuss "why" we are doing aikido. Why do you do aikido? Self-defense, health/exercise, comradraship...all these things can be found through other means and probably even more efficiently. To find a teacher with this kind of understanding and someone who can offer this kind of training is a very hard thing indeed. For example I think that a Kenshu style of class is absolutley neccesary for any serious aikido student. Unfortunatley that isn't offered at too many places. Its just so hard (these days) to find people/instructors that can find the time and means to dedicate themselves to achieve such knowledge. We have families, jobs, responsibilities, etc. that make it difficult. I count myself very lucky to be so close to such good instruction right now. Unfortunatley I am moving soon. I have to agree with Keith Sensei. For a serious and dedicated student, if you need to move on to a new teacher...do so! But don't forget where you came from and who started your training! Different teachers have different levels of dedication and teach at different skill levels. There's nothing wrong with that. Its just up to the student to decide what is best for them. There, of course, are bad teachers out there...but I haven't seen too many of them.
Oh, to answer the question..."How deficient is your teachers skill in teaching aikido to you?"...not very. Which is to say I have more good teachers around me than I know what to do with!