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My Path Blog Tools Rating: Rate This Blog
Creation Date: 06-08-2009 02:55 PM
Linda Eskin
My path to and through Aikido. Observations on Aikido, fitness, happiness, horses, & life, by a 53 y/o sho-dan.

This same blog (with photos and a few additional trivial posts, but without comments) can be found at www.grabmywrist.com.

I train with Dave Goldberg Sensei, at Aikido of San Diego.
Blog Info
Status: Public
Entries: 242
Comments: 367
Views: 822,287


In Teaching Humor & Humiliation Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #102 New 10-23-2010 01:56 AM
I have long suspected that that is an Instructors' Course at Aikido Summer Camps or Association Meetings where teachers learn techniques for making us laugh at ourselves (and cringe a little), to improve our technique and awareness, or jar us out of habitual patterns of thinking.

Every Aikido teacher I've encountered - Sensei, the yudansha at our dojo, and visiting teachers alike - to the best of my recollection, has used pointed humor and sometimes pretty stern shaming in their teaching. Mostly it's really funny, and often includes some very good physical comedy. And it drives the point home like a nail gun.

"This is what some of you look like. I'm exaggerating, but only a little."

I have to laugh, and at the same time *facepalm* I see that once again I have let my arm trail behind my center in a tenkan, or completely forgotten to hold Uke's shoulder down when setting up the pin for sankyo. D'oh!

One whap upside the head I received in a recent one-on-one session on suwariwaza was "They call it 'knee walking' not 'duck walking'." The teacher, whose natural, flowing, centered shikko is an inspiration, then proceeded to show me exactly what my "duck walking" looked liked. Oh no... It was both mortifying and very funny.

A teacher could very "politely and respectfully" explain the rationale, physics, and anatomy behind their instructions, and demonstrate again the "preferred" way we should be working toward, blah, blah, blah... But that's explaining, not training.

By poking fun the message gets through loud and clear. Even though the "duck walking" correction was softened with gentle humor I was still very motivated to never get caught moving that way again. Ever. Yikes.

I'd love to be a fly on the wall in that Instructors' Course some day. I'll bet it's hilarious.
Views: 2208 | Comments: 6

RSS Feed 6 Responses to "Humor & Humiliation"
#6 10-25-2010 04:14 PM
Linda Eskin Says:
Thank you Janet - you make a very good point. Sensei and the yudansha know they can be very intrustive and direct with me, verbally and physically, and I won't go to pieces. ;-) Subtlety is often lost on me, so I really appreciate it. But being appropriate to the temperament of the student would be important.
#5 10-24-2010 11:26 PM
Janet Rosen Says:
I think as much as vocabulary it is a matter of judicious application: it takes a sensitive instructor to know with which student pointed humor will be effective and with which student it will result in mortification. Only a bully will do the latter.
#4 10-23-2010 10:06 AM
Linda Eskin Says:
... And he was right. He wasn't being mean, just getting the point across in a way that now (almost a year later), I remember it on a visceral level. I hope that helps... It's certainly not a mean-spirited thing. It's a coaching thing. And the impression (from my student point of view) is one of being corrected, so I can improve, not being degraded in any way. (Sorry - comments are limited to 600 characters, so I had to cheat and split it up.)
#3 10-23-2010 10:06 AM
Linda Eskin Says:
A good example of the physical analogy would be what a fellow seminar attendee (much higher ranked than myself... I think he had his own dojo, even) did to me about a year ago. We were working on sankyo, and every time I let my thumb get within reach of his (instead of grasping his whole hand), he'd grab my thumb with his. Hard! Oww! He wasn't trying to damage me, just making an impression. He told me "don't worry, after about 5 or 6 times you won't do that anymore. ...
#2 10-23-2010 10:05 AM
Linda Eskin Says:
Perhaps just vocabulary. I don't mean it in any cruel or disheartening sense. More like the verbal equivalent of popping someone (lightly) to demonstrate an opening. Not intended to connect or do damage, just to get you to quickly make a change. It's very effective, and gets through (at least in my case) in a memorable way.
#1 10-23-2010 04:35 AM
niall Says:
Sorry, Linda, I'm going to have to disagree with you. Humor is always cool but anyone who uses shaming and humiliation (your words) is a weak person and a poor teacher. I've never seen any budo teacher do it. Maybe it's just a question of the vocabulary...? Regards, Niall

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