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TheAikidoka 10-03-2010 04:44 PM

New dojo/new student
 
I didnt now where to put this, so here goes.
Ive moved to the other side of the country, ive just passed sandan grade, and my Shihan asked if I was going to open a club in Brighton, I said that I would.

I open my first class on the first of november, Im real excited, nervous, then it hit me, what do you actualy show on your opening night to beginners who know practically nothing about Aikido, and your on your own,

Any suggestions?

TheAikidoka 10-03-2010 04:46 PM

Re: New dojo/new student
 
I forgot to add, this is also the first time I ahve had a serious go at opening a dojo. ;-)

Shannon Frye 10-03-2010 07:22 PM

Re: New dojo/new student
 
My suggestion would be to consider the following:

Relax - Breathe - and take things slow.

Your students will be as anxious as you will about being a "first class". Stay calm and show them the inner peace that aikido can offer. Remember, the first class will set the tone for following classes, and the dojo's reputation. If you start flashy, they will expect this every class.

Best of luck! Let us know how it turned out.

Shannon

Russ Q 10-03-2010 07:28 PM

Re: New dojo/new student
 
Hello Andrew,

So many places to start with absolute beginners......Show them who you are when you demonstrate...be genuine is what I mean. That first class is a "get to know you" situation, especially if you've never met any of your students before. Don't forget to give them a taste of "what you have to offer" so they will come back for more:-). Good luck!

Cheers,

Russ

Lyle Laizure 10-03-2010 07:47 PM

Re: New dojo/new student
 
For a first class I like to let new students know a little about the history of Aikido as well as basic etiquette. Then I teach wrist exercises and back breakfalls. From there some basic footwork and body movement. For beginners I limit their first few classes to one hour so as not to overwhelm them. Depending on the students I may not get into any techniques during a first class. Before letting them out the door I let them know that they will likely be sore over the next couple of days. I also tell them that they don't need to remember everything. Just take one thing home and bring it back to the next practice and we can build on it.

Good luck!

WilliB 10-03-2010 07:51 PM

Re: New dojo/new student
 
Quote:

Andrew Bedford wrote: (Post 265578)
I didnt now where to put this, so here goes.
Ive moved to the other side of the country, ive just passed sandan grade, and my Shihan asked if I was going to open a club in Brighton, I said that I would.

I open my first class on the first of november, Im real excited, nervous, then it hit me, what do you actualy show on your opening night to beginners who know practically nothing about Aikido, and your on your own,

Any suggestions?

A youtube video?
:ouch:

Marc Abrams 10-03-2010 08:40 PM

Re: New dojo/new student
 
Andrew:

Think carefully about what you consider to be the foundations of good Aikido. Then think of how you can break down each foundation into teachable parts. Like a new house, a solid foundation is a great place to start.

Good Luck!

Marc Abrams

Janet Rosen 10-03-2010 09:40 PM

Re: New dojo/new student
 
Wow - exciting and scary!
One thing to keep in mind when you get up in front of any group of newbies, in pretty much any endeavor, is that they are predisposed to accept your expertise - basically it's like you are starting with a good long (+) column and as long as you don't give them a lot of reasons to start putting things in the (-) column it will be fine. :-)

shakou 10-04-2010 10:01 AM

Re: New dojo/new student
 
.......Yonkyo!

Basia Halliop 10-05-2010 07:50 AM

Re: New dojo/new student
 
What would you normally do in your dojo if you were teaching and new students came to class?

In our dojo with brand new people we usually start with rolling and tai-sabaki, perhaps an exercise demonstrating some 'building block' movement used in many techniques (for example blocking and stepping off the line), and then one or maybe two fairly 'simple' techniques (simple in the sense of there not being many steps or hand changes), sometimes using the tai-sabaki or blocking we already looked at.

Of course if you have several new students and no senior students to help you and lead by example then you'll also have to spend a moment or two explaining etiquette like when to bow, lining up, when to sit seiza, etc.

Depending on how many students show up, I'd probably try to think of things you can explain in pretty simple steps as they will all be working with another new person in paired practice (so not as much one-on-one help as new students get in a mixed class), and you will have to demonstrate on a new person as well.

TheAikidoka 10-05-2010 08:46 AM

Re: New dojo/new student
 
Thank you everybody for your replies, I was thinking along the same lines as warm up, tai no henko, ai hanmi ikkyo, then have them do basic ukemi from said technique, to begin with.

I just dont want to overload there brains, I suppose what your all saying is keep it light, and light hearted with a bit of history and ettiquete thrown in.

Willi your reply did make me chuckle, then I got to thinking, what if I get the "what would you do is somebody punched you....." I tend to demonstrate rather than talk in that situation.

Marc, that was solid advice talking about correct hanmi and body turning, its like the building blocks of Aikido.

Janet, another peace of sound advice, i will try not to give them reasons not to come back, hoewever I am also aware that its not for everybody, and you cant please everyone, having said that i will try to explain things in a concise direct and easy to understand manner. Hopefully keeping that in mind will stop me rambling as I tend to do.

Lyle what you said about keeping the session down to 1hr, has had me thinking for two days! I have booked the sessions for two hr classes, and I`m wondering that you may actually be right. My first lesson actually was 2hrs, had half hrs break and they let me join in the seniors class, I didnt think it was too much, what they didnt tell me, is that I would be like a dead man walking for the next week!

Does anyone else think 2hrs is too much for a begginers class?

Thanks again for all your replies, and of course I will let you all how it goes.

Andy B

Jory Boling 10-05-2010 09:50 AM

Re: New dojo/new student
 
Does your Shihan have any advice?
Does anyone have any advice on what NOT to do?

Basia Halliop 10-05-2010 11:50 AM

Re: New dojo/new student
 
Quote:

Does your Shihan have any advice?
Yeah... I would assume if he told you to open a dojo that it was in part a reflection on what he'd observed in the past of your teaching ability and ability to plan a class. In any case, even if you've moved presumably you are still in touch with your teacher?

Rob Watson 10-05-2010 04:54 PM

Re: New dojo/new student
 
It may be refreshing to explain to them that we are all students and we can learn best by working and learning together. Kind of fits with the starting cooperative practice then working progressively towards the more free wheeling applications that may have resistive/unpredictable partners..

TheAikidoka 10-06-2010 12:14 AM

Re: New dojo/new student
 
I am still very much in contact with my Shihan, He and a 5 member grading panel has just recently passed me for Sandan. He also did not tell me to do anything. He knew I was moving away and asked me if I would like to open a dojo. As to the content of the instruction I will be giving he has left that down to me.

I have taught classes before including Taijitsu, Buki waza - Jo dori, Tachi dori, Tanto dori, Kumi tachi, kumi Jo, Taninzugake e.t.c....

However, Ive just not done any of those things in a room of complete beginners, with no Uke, or anyone who has an inkling of what Aikido is/is not.

I think my teacher, is using this as his own teaching tool. For me to start my own classes, so that I begin to learn more, possibly!

Has anyone else been in the same situation?

In Budo

Andy B

Basia Halliop 10-06-2010 08:29 AM

Re: New dojo/new student
 
Quote:

I think my teacher, is using this as his own teaching tool. For me to start my own classes, so that I begin to learn more, possibly!
:LOL. Sounds strangely familiar...

JJF 10-07-2010 04:36 AM

Re: New dojo/new student
 
..or maybe he would just like to see a new dojo appear so that more people get to enjoy aikido....

That said - teaching is the greatest teacher for most of us.

Being a 3. dan I would expect that you have quite a bit of experience teaching and participating in demo's... no? well have no worry..

I would suggest that you put together a simple program that shows the major groups of techniques that you practice in your line of aikido. Throws, weapons, warm up drills etc. Show them what it would be like to practice with you. Don't dassel them too much... just plain ol' simple and beautiful aikido.

If you don't feel comfortable just talking then prepare a very short speach that you write down and rehearse over and over. Just tell them briefly what aikido is about, what you emphasize in you dojo, where, when and how people can practice with you - and thank them all for showing up.

You might suggest writing a text about the techniques you are going to show. Having a narrator reading this aloud during the demo is a really cool thing. But it takes quite a bit of work writing it down, and you need a person to read it, who has a good voice and enough knowledge about aikido to tell the rigth things at the right time.

Oh... and make sure you have at least one good experienced uke that will make your technique look good... Import if neccesary.

Finally... remember to have fun :)

- Jørgen Jakob

TheAikidoka 10-07-2010 05:18 AM

Re: New dojo/new student
 
Hi Jorgen, thank you for your reply. This is exactly my problem, I do not have an uke to demonstraight with. So I think its a case of teaching basic body movement, and the basics of ikkyo, nikkyo, and kotogaeshi, from ai hanmi to begin with. Its a 2 hr class, so ive still gotta make it as interesting as possible without over doing it.

I just didnt give it a thought before posting this, that I would be totaly on my own. However I am enjoying the challenge of working out a few lesson plans for absoloute beginners, with no uke.

thank you all again for replie, again I ask does anyone think 2 hrs is too long for beginner classes?

In Budo

Andy B

Amir Krause 10-07-2010 07:08 AM

Re: New dojo/new student
 
A few pointing questions:
1. Have you taught in the previous dojo?
2. What would you / your teacher teach a new student arriving to the dojo?
3. Do you already have your own consolidated concept on the "focus" of your Aikido (Are you teaching fighting for S.D. / self development / ... ; Should one learn the techniques and then learn the principles behind them or the other way around? ; Should he be able to apply techniques and then become soft or the other way around(
4. Who is your target crowd? (Ages, Attractions, Other options)
If you are looking for teens or ~20 years old,
5. How can you to capture the attention of those new comers? The first lesson must make them wish to come for more.
E.g. plan on teaching a bit of Ukemi, and then one technique, then find a solution to demonstrate the same technique in a much more practical situation.

Good luck
Amir

David Maidment 10-07-2010 11:00 AM

Re: New dojo/new student
 
Do you have a friend from your old dojo who could come and visit to help out with the first few classes? If I was a bit closer or could drive I'd definitely volunteer; maybe there's someone else here close enough who could be your uke for a while to get the ball rolling?

I think that two hours might be a bit too long. However, I also think that you need more than two hours to give a proper introduction to Aikido with a class of beginners only. It's not ideal either way, I think.

Lyle Laizure 10-07-2010 05:52 PM

Re: New dojo/new student
 
With regard to the two hour class. I don't think it is too long but I do like to limit new students to one hour. I didn't start this process untill after I had been teaching a couple of years. If you have the time I say use it. Maybe break it up with weapons and footwork drills and techniques. Just let your students know that they will be sore etc.

TheAikidoka 10-08-2010 01:18 AM

Re: New dojo/new student
 
To Amir, thank you for your questions here are a few answers in question order

1. This is a new club I am starting. But I have taught in my teachers dojo, and the association summer school.
2. My teacher would pair a beginner up with a more experienced student.
3. The focus of my personal training has now taken on a more spiritual element, I do not focus directly on self defence for myself anymore. I would teach techniques in a purely self defensive manor, as I believe Aikido should be practical first, especially weapons training.
4. Anyone is welcome to train with me, young, old, disabled, I once, in my teachers dojo put together a blind person, and a deaf person. one could see what I was doing the other could hear, that was a great experience!
5. This one is little tricky to answer, I will try to show the beauty of Aikido, through simple yet powerful movement, and say yes you can do this too!.

To David, unfortunately, my teachers dojo is just a little over 200 miles away in sunny Hereford on the Welsh boarder, as you can see I now live in Brighton. I thank you for your thoughtfulness in offering if you could to come and uke for me, very kind of you.

To Lyle, thank you for the advice, I thought about introducing weapons, but not on the first night, I don`t want to overload them, but I will definitely do a small demonstration of bokken and Jo suburi, and Jo Kata, to give them a flavour of the style of weapons they will be learning.

Again I wish to thank you all for your comments, I am slowly getting a picture of what I would like to show them on the opening night.

In Budo

Andy B

TheAikidoka 10-08-2010 01:29 AM

Re: New dojo/new student
 
Does anyone think inviting one or two of the surrounding Aikido clubs, to come is a good idea?
For instance there is an Aikikai affiliated dojo, two miles away. A ki society dojo in the centre of town.
I would love to try and build bridges with other Aikido organisations/dojo`s/federations, in the sussex area, do people think here it is possible?

Andy B

Walter Martindale 10-10-2010 10:23 AM

Re: New dojo/new student
 
Quote:

Andrew Bedford wrote: (Post 265906)
Does anyone think inviting one or two of the surrounding Aikido clubs, to come is a good idea?
For instance there is an Aikikai affiliated dojo, two miles away. A ki society dojo in the centre of town.
I would love to try and build bridges with other Aikido organisations/dojo`s/federations, in the sussex area, do people think here it is possible?

Andy B

Which of the two nearby dojo is closest to your style/affiliation?

It may pay to go visit them, introduce yourself and ask if you could borrow a few relatively advanced students for a demo, but you could also start everyone off "cold turkey" and go from there.

I've done that several times with rowing programs (starting everyone off from scratch, that is, not raiding other clubs) - introduce yourself, introduce some of the etiquette and where it comes from, (why do we bow, when we bow), introduce some of the concepts of protecting people with whom you train so that you can train with them tomorrow, some basic movements (e.g., sankaku irimi with a bit of a demo of why you do it without actually throwing the person).
Tenkai, and where it fits in shifting off line, tenkan and where it fits in moving off line and moving the body, and so on. I think that's more important than simply showing a set of movements that don't have any apparent purpose behind them.

Naturally some introduction to ukemi.

Some introduction to a basic attack-technique that they can accomplish without knowing a lot of good ukemi.

Ask if anyone in the class has a background including a few years in judo - you could probably trust their ukemi for "here's what it looks like at a slightly more advanced level"

If you are familiar with the Japanese etiquette and terminology, it may also pay to put together a printed beginner's guide to the etiquette, some language (if your dojo uses the Japanese terminology - I know some don't - but if you're sandan one would guess that you're fairly up on it).

Let them know that it's a martial art, that you expect them to do their best to be on time (I know that in Ireland people are expected to be held up in traffic no matter how early they leave for things, so it may be inevitable, but lateness should be poorly tolerated), that you expect them to keep their training clothes clean, and that if they decide to stay they're expected to buy proper training gi after a fixed number of practices, and so on, and so on...

You probably don't need this bit but remember your first sessions and how confused you were... Patience... One of my past sensei loves teaching beginners because it helps him learn more about Aikido. Helping others learn a new sport/martial art/activity forces us to learn the sport/martial art/activity better than we thought we knew it before.

I find that when coaching beginning rowers (and the occasional beginning Aikido person) it pays to remember to treat them with the basic common courtesy with which you'd expect to be treated if you were going to them for a new lesson in whatever happens to be their field of expertise - for which you're paying. I look at the ownership thing the reverse way to a lot of coaches - they're not my rowers, they let me coach them, and show that by coming back and paying money to the club so that I they can learn from me.

Oops - gotta go - or I'll be late to the dojo myself.
HTH
Walter

danielajames 10-10-2010 11:15 PM

Re: New dojo/new student
 
You might consider running a short term weapons course in jo or ken. Its an easier entry point for people and doesn't require a skilled uke straight up. You can sneak in a bit of aiki throughout the course as it progresses. At the end of the course you might have some that want to stay on and do aiki.

I trained with the KS folk in brighton some years back, nice guys... worth a crack


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