Talking on the mat
From the poll, it looks like over 2/3 of us so far come from places where there's a fair amount of talking going on while on the mat. My first dojo the only person who talked on the mat was the sensei. My current one is quite the chatty place. One difference I've noticed, is in my first place I missed the chance to occasionally ask if my attack was OK for my partner when I was uke, but otherwise there wasn't much to say, anyway.
In my current dojo, nearly everyone, from those with 2 weeks under their new white belt to the yudansha, feels the need to 'elaborate on the instruction we received'. :( Wouldn't be too bad, all the talking, if only 20% of the 'correction' was correct :rolleyes: Unfortunately, all that extra instruction is usually wrong.
I was recently at a seminar where many of the students were of styles different than the sensei teaching; some of them, in mid-'correction' to me, would be stopped by the instructor and told they were incorrect. Once he moved on, back they went to telling me 'how it was done'. I wonder how much of all this talking going on is about the weather, and how much is the curious phenomena of students feeling that the instructor was unable to get the point across, but that they will now do so?
I'd say the majority of the talk on the mat at my dojo is either typically questions of how it felt/did it feel correct/am i stepping too far/etc, and a few jokes. We don't really have anyone trying to improve on what has been said regarding the technique, with the exception of some higher ranks helping out the lower ranks with understanding of some things that they are missing. The extra help shows up magnified in the basics class of course, but that's only because it's needed moreso there.
I honestly haven't seen lower ranks trying to correct upper ranks after a year of training. Personally, I think that it'd be rather disrepectful to do so. Well, unless it has something to do with what uke is feeling.. then I could see a lower belt saying something like, 'I really don't feel any tension when you go to do the technique; that may be the problem' or 'when this happened, it killed my momentum.'
Re: Talking on the mat
I do think talking on the mats is okay, as long as it is concerning the training at hand, or if one has a question for Sensei.
Socializing, while it is not a bad thing, should be saved for after training.
I often find that each Sensei, also, has their own understanding.
While the Sensei gave these people his instruction, they were at his seminar, and should have atleast given it some thought, see how it worked, and what not... I mean, if they were of different styles, and went to this person's seminar, they should have been open to the instruction in the first place, common courtesy between practitioners of the way.
I remember once, being shown how to do a sword cut by one of the junior instructors in my Dojo, and then Sensei came along, said, nono, that is all wrong.
He showed me a way to sword cut that was similar to - with a few differences - than his student's instruction.
Both were right, but the junior instructor's depended more on strength, my teacher showed me how to let the blade cut when it wanted to...
Talking is strongly discouraged, except of course when it comes to extra-ordinary circumstances like intense pain, etc. We're taught to develope our observational skills while the instructor is demonstrating technique, and that becomes difficult if we feel that we can just ask uke or someone else about the technique--it becomes a crutch.
I try not to speak on the mat except to acknowledge a senior student's comment, or to apologize if my throw sent somebody near someone else (how embarassing :/).
We are expected to talk between partners especially from senior to junior. It's my sensei's perspective to allow the seniors to help the juniors. That senior can be a 4th kyu working with a newbie or the senior can be the 1st kyu working with the 4th kyu or they can be the nidan working with the 1st kyu.
The coversation is also expected to go the other way especially so the junior can communicate to the senior to take it down a notch. I find myself doing that a lot. I'm 4th kyu which means I'm getting more comfortable with my ukemi but I'm not so comfortable that one of my senior's (shodans) can still get a full workout like they could with a fellow shodan or 1st kyu. What happens is that we start at a slower pace work up then I hit a point where my ukemi is too slow for their skill. I just say so and they have no problem with taking it down a notch. I also like pushing myself a little so I won't say so until I really feel like I need to back down a little.
But I'm not talking full fledged conversations here. But really just approval of people speaking enough on the mat so people can help each other improve. As long as people don't over coach it's okay. I usually don't see a lot of that on the mat even with an open attitude so most people focus on training. Sensei also keeps a watchful eye and usually steps in if someone takes it too far.
The highest expression of Aikido is to be able to do all waza effectively regardless of the situation. In heat, in cold, before 100 silent eyes, in the midst of negotiations –with shoes on. Anyone who does not practice talking while doing waza will be at a disadvantage in a real life situation. Sure you may be able to injure someone successfully, but how well can you achieve harmony? Our mouths are one of the greatest tools we have for harmony. They are also extremely useful in leading a personfs Ki. If you get into the habit closing your mouth in a conflict or physical situation, there is nothing to do but go to fisticuffs. If you can continue talking the whole time before, during, after a waza and through the Osae, you will find that you may not even need the waza in the real life situation. According to modern criminology and Police Training, the longer a suicide attemptee is kept talking, the lower the chance that he will commit a violent act to himself. The same goes for terrorist situations. The longer you keep them talking, the better the chance of survival for the hostages. So talk before your waza, during your waza, after your waza, about the weather, about the waza, about anything, even be silent. Just remember to develop Zanshin, or continual awareness during your waza or you will get whacked upside the head when you start to talk. Do not let your Ki to be led away during the conversation.
Talking also helps you to remember to breath regularly during your waza. We have a natural tendency to tense up and hold our breath when we try to work hard or receive a hit but talking will help alleviate this.
So in your dojo your sensei (you?) actively encourage everyone to talk all the time about anything? Interesting. I've found that when someone is talking they tend to loose focus on their other senses, and don't feel uke/nage as much. One reason car phones are such a problem. When folks talk about a technique they stop feeling it, and use it as a reason not to watch more closely when it was demonstrated.
The point about the suicide attempt is an interesting one, as the point of that is not to keep a constant stream of noise going, and in fact it is important in counseling to be comfortable with silence, but to establish a dialogue with the patient, often through that comfort with silence. Novices are often unable to stand the quiet and keep jumping in at the wrong time because they feel the need for talking to go on.
The police tactics classes I've been to emphasize talking, but that is not to establish harmony, but dominance: the joint locks demo'd were painful and the directions were repeated in a loud clear voice to make clear to the 'perp' what he had to do to get the pain to stop (ie, get down, lie down, stay down, etc) really not about what was going on with the person, but since the lock was not effectively directing uke where he needed to go, words had to be used.
Sounds like the police approach is a bit rough around the edges Colleen?!
As far as talking goes, I think its fine in your own dojo if it is aikido related and if they are questions. Problem with my dojo at the moment is that there are no high grades. Therefore it is very serious work trying to instruct because sometimes it is the first time EVERYONE has ever done a particular technique and therefore a bit of discussion between them saves me going around everyone individually to sort things out.
Unfortunately, everyone at the start develops bad habits, but this is what aikdio training is about isn't it; getting rid of your bad habits?
Also, I find talking provides a more relaxed atmosphere esp. if it is mildly humerous.
Its probably up to the sensei what he thinks works best with the group. If people are just chatting about the weather they are either bored, not focusing on what they are doing or not interested in aikido - either way the sensei can do things to prevent this situation.
As far as students giving instruction when you're not training with your regular sensei goes - pretty much out of the question (unless they are absolute beginners who are being shown, and they can't do anything). Basically if you're there training you're there to learn how someone else does it; I've seen people train for a solid week and not learn a thing because they are still trying to do what their previous sensei told them.
Although talking on the mats during class isn't prohibited in our dojo, it is generally considered impolite as it can interfere with the concentration of other students. When it is necessary - for clarification of a technique, for example - it's kept brief.
The only excpetion would be when a student decides to end his/her life while in the midst of a rather vigorous class. And, of course, if a techinique fails, the ocassional "Down! I said do it!! Now!!!" could be helpful. :D
Don't you like when someone gives you incorrect instruction?
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