Who is the best to learn from?
I found that when I started aikido, and for many years, it was much easier to learn from a Nidan or Sandan than from a more senior instructor. I think that this is because the movements are still large and follow basic forms. At higher grades the movements become smaller, more natural to the specific body shape etc.
Anyone else have this same experience?
Would I on average, learn more at a seminar by a 3rd or 4th dan than by a 8th dan? Probably. Makes me think about which seminars to go to.
Do most instructors actually teach, or just provide a class structure that lets me learn from my partners and myself.
Just rambling thoughts on this cold winter day.
To me it isn't the Rank of the instructor but the ability of the instructor to teach, or in what form the instructor teaches. What this is dependant on is the form in which the student learns. Egsample: If an instructor teaches in the formal Japaneze style(show the technic only with no explinations) you will only be able to train all the students that are able to learn visually, and loose all the students that learn tactilly (to do by doing) and verbally (by explanation). My instructor is Shodan who is also a highschool teacher. He is very good at teaching in all three ways due to his training and experience as a school teacher. We were also visited by a Sandan who was also a good teacher but was able to point out suttleties that our shodan wasn't for experience reason. The 8th dans you refer to are typically the traditional Sensies I refered to at the start, so for that reason what you say could have some creedance. Don't, However, lump all of the highest ranking black belts under this traditional view. There are good high ranking black belt teachers, and there are bad ones. The same can be said for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd dan black belts.
I know that I learn best from someone who will actually SAY something to me to help correct it as well as SHOW, but that is because I tend to be more able to learn via explanation than visually. That said, I have had the experience of training on a day to day basis under the instruction of a 5th (now 6th) Dan, who took the traditional Japanese approach. I didn't think I was learning much, as he rarely corrected me; but in retrospect, I see that I really learned a tremendous amount from him, most likely because of that approach. Now I get instruction from a very young 4th Dan, who corrects me both verbally and visually, and corrects me on a lot of subtle movements, and I find this amazingly helpful. I also find that I learn a great deal from folks at other dojos that I go to visit who give me little nuggets to take home.
Don't forget the beginners (and everyone else for that matter) too, because they teach you a lot if you are willing to listen to their bodies (but that is not what the thread was asking, so it is just an aside). We learn from everyone on the mat.
Maybe the rank thing has to do with where each of us is in our own training. I think as a teacher, the folks who most benefit from me are the early kyu ranks, as I am very good at showing basics and centering, whereas I am not at a stage in my teaching that I am particularly good with the fine subtleties. So, maybe a nidan/sandan is best for the lower kyu ranks, and a higher ranking teacher with umpteen years of experience is better for the higher kyu ranks and dan grades?
just my $.02
go for it
I usually go for the highest-ranking individual I can find. I've seldom been let down in such adventures, although some people just don't seem to have the courage to face a shihan.
Learning directly from a shihan can help screen out a lot of misinformation, and learning usually goes faster.
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