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Fabris 10-24-2000 09:42 AM

Hi everyone,

I would like to know your opinion about somethink I've been thinking about for some time now.

The Japanese aproach to teaching Aikido (and other MAs as well) is that the student has to feel the technique to judge if it's right. And that's all there is to it. Talking about the technique would spoil the feeling part thus diminishing the effectiveness of the learning process.

But I wonder: Is that aproach right to our western minds raised in a scientific mindset that demands a logical explanation for everything?

I am not by any means trying to say that the Japanese way is not a valid one. I think it is valid. It's a mindset that has worked for thousands of years and will still work for years to come. But is it right for us?

So, should we try to adapt to the eastern way or stick to our "logical" way of life? Or is the truth between the two aproaches?

Fabrício Lemos, Brazil Aikikai

ian 10-24-2000 10:42 AM

Hi Fabris,
I think aikido is not about intellectual learning but about training your nervous system to intuitively react to attacks. For this reason I think talking should be kept to a minimum, to allow your body to do more training (after all, unless you can scare your attacker with a conversation of how devestating the technique is going to be, talking is not much use.)

Saying this, it has taken many years for me to formalise the training of aikido into a reasonable structure for myself. I think this is important as an aid to doing new techniques and to allow you to practise new techniques. It also helps you to see how similar some techniques are, and to change from one to another, or to use counter techniques.

All in all, you only need to say the very basic bits about the technique i.e. what the attack is, what the intention of the technique is and some valid points about extension etc. Every so often you can slip in a little bit of extra advice.

I can talk indefinately about aikido, but I prefer that chatter to be down the bar afterwards. I think reading books on Aikido and watching videos are also an important aspect of the training as it helps to formalise your techniques and pick up little bits.

ian 10-24-2000 10:45 AM

i.e. as always take the best of both

ScottyC 10-24-2000 10:45 AM

Quote:

Fabris wrote:
Hi everyone,

I would like to know your opinion about somethink I've been thinking about for some time now.

The Japanese aproach to teaching Aikido (and other MAs as well) is that the student has to feel the technique to judge if it's right. And that's all there is to it. Talking about the technique would spoil the feeling part thus diminishing the effectiveness of the learning process.

But I wonder: Is that aproach right to our western minds raised in a scientific mindset that demands a logical explanation for everything?

I am not by any means trying to say that the Japanese way is not a valid one. I think it is valid. It's a mindset that has worked for thousands of years and will still work for years to come. But is it right for us?

So, should we try to adapt to the eastern way or stick to our "logical" way of life? Or is the truth between the two aproaches?

Fabrício Lemos, Brazil Aikikai
Hello Fabricio,

I believe that different people learn in different ways. Some people are very visual; they have to SEE something to understand it. Others need to HEAR it; still others learn best only when they FEEL it. That varies by individual.

So, why not try to learn by the method that works best for you? I know several instructors that make a distinct effort to teach using as many of these different paradigms as possible.

It's difficult, and more work for the instructor, to be sure. To explain each technique taught by exact words, then by analogy, then show it, then have people feel it... That's a lot of work.

However, I think it helps more people learn, because it tries to explain things using a variety of methods so (hopefully) all the different types of learners can get something out of the lesson.

Difficult, but worth it, IMHO.

Also, I would be careful of describing one method of teaching and calling it "The Japanese Approach". There are many methods of teaching, even within Japan.

If you don't know what I mean, try to find a copy of "Total Aikido" by Gozo Shioda Soke (founder of Yoshinkan Aikido).

You'll find very specific, detailed, logical explanations of aikido technique. And Shioda Soke was, most definitely, Japanese.

There are many paths called aikido. Sometimes they diverge, and go different directions for a while, but they all go in basically the same direction.

As always, YMMV.


Scott

REK 10-24-2000 01:39 PM

Verbal vs. Somatic learning
 
I agree with Ian about the level of discussion on the mat. But probably for a different reason. Research on neural plasticity (the capacity to learn from a neurological point of view) has demonstrated rather clearly that encoding information of a somatic nature (eg, learning how to take ukemi) is done in areas of the brain that are distinctly separate from those centers that encode verbal information (instruction by voice).

The thalamic-cerebellar tracts, somatosensory and motor cortices are responsible for the control and learning of body movement, from gross motion to fine control. The thalamic connections to the temporal lobes (grossly involved in verbal skills and encoding of memory) are clearly separate. Research has shown that the brain operates most efficiently when learning in one or the other modalities. That has certainly been my experience. I love to talk about it, but my ikkyo is much better when I don't.

I am not suggesting that you never speak on the mat. Of course you will. Our language is a more highly developed form of communication than is our aikido. This was not true of O'Sensei, who could convey a thousand lessons with one technique. So, at [my] humble level, verbal instruction is a must. However, practice often requires focus, timing and awareness. Those three are not amenable to concomitant verbal discussion. The budo masters knew this, and we are just beginning to understand why from a neuroscience point of view.

I realize I committed a rant just now, but this has been a perennial issue in my dojo...

AikiBiker 10-24-2000 02:13 PM

I have been dianosed as having a learning disability by a neuralogist. The definition my doctor gave to me of a learning disability is this: There are 27 different styles of learning and an equal number of teaching styles. The public school system in America uses only the 2 most common methods to teach so a learning disabled person is one who learns in one of the 25 other styles.

That is what I was told anyway.

I was fortunate to find in my Dojo a teaching style that is very compatible with my learning style. I would advise anyone who is not satisfied with the method of instruction in their Dojo to try another school for a week or two and see if there is any change. At the least you will get to meet other Aikidoka who working hard training in this wonderful art.

That is my 2 cents.

Later

Kevin73 10-24-2000 04:53 PM

There are alot of good replys and I agree about the different learning styles (visual, auditory, feeling), but IMO those are valid for sharing the new technique and knowledge so the student can replicate it.

But, what I have found after 2 1/2 yrs. of teaching is that to often a student will go over a technique but they don't own the technique. They understand on a mental level the concepts it's trying to show and accomplish, but as you said about the Japanese they don't "feel that it's right". The only way to accomplish this (sports psych.) is through 3,000 to 5,000 reps of the technque to put it into the subconscious mind. That is why they wanted the student to do more and talk less. By talking about it only they "think" they have the technique but they don't on the physical level.

Hope this helps out some.


Kevin

"There are many who talk about the path, but few who walk the path."

andrew 10-25-2000 03:46 AM

http://gargas.biomedicale.univ-paris.../sncemeng.html

essay on the subject by Tiki Shewan, (6th dan french/canadian guy). No point in me saying anything here.
andrew

leefr 10-25-2000 04:08 AM

To throw in my two cents,

I think 'logic' and 'speech' as mentioned by Fabris are not necessarily as intrinsically connected as some people assume. The reason for my thinking this is that in our dojo here in Korea, one of our instructors is an Englishman. Of course he's able to speak some Korean, but naturally he doesn't have the kind of fluency needed for very detailed or complex explanation of technique. What I've found is - he doesn't need to.
His style of aikido and his teaching of it are both highly logical. But he shows us the points we need to know basically by body language. By accentuating certain aspects of his movement during demonstration of technique, or by using a few simple words, I've found as a student his teaching is highly effective. And I've found the best instruction I get is when he throws me. :)
What I've found is his 'logical' mind is always turned on during his aikido, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that IMHO.

Frederick

REK 10-25-2000 06:33 AM

Exactly. And that subconscious learning that Kevin referred to (some sports med folks call it "muscle memory
") is thought to be encoding memory into limbic and cerebellar areas, which do not receive information from verbal (cortical) centers of the brain.

Talking about it helps, but you learn it by doing (and being thrown). Do you think I used enough parenthetical phrases in this reply (I could always add more)?

guest1234 10-25-2000 08:15 AM

i personally learn best with little to no talking, and feeling it done correctly on me. the next best is seeing it done, but there are subtle things you don't see (as a beginner?) that you can feel (e.g., you see where Sensei's hands and feet are placed, may even notice the subtle hip turn, but have no idea where the energy just went in the throw unless you feel it yourself). there are times of course when i feel it, but can't quite get my body to do it, but that just means i need to practice it (and get thrown) a lot more; lectures on it rarely helps me. i often find the partners who like to talk the most are the ones who are most likely to resist connecting with their partner--perhaps they lean toward talk because they don't feel it...

tedehara 11-12-2000 03:00 PM

Eastern or Western?
 
Quote:

Fabris wrote:

...So, should we try to adapt to the eastern way or stick to our "logical" way of life? Or is the truth between the two aproaches?

Fabrício Lemos, Brazil Aikikai

Once a Japanese instructor who taught both in the US and Japan, was asked - "Who were better Aikido students, Japanese or Americans?".

"They're different types of students", the teacher said. "If you show a Japanese a technique, they will practice it for a thousand times. If you teach them an incorrect technique, they will practice it incorrectly for a thousand times."

"An American will ask you questions about a technique. Once they get though questioning you, they'll sit back and smoke a cigarette, believing that they had learned the technique."

ian 11-13-2000 04:49 AM

ai or gyaku
 
This thread has definately inspired me to try a lesson where I minimise talk. At the moment I am teachning a group of beginners and what I have found difficult is that what I am thinking about in a technique is very different to what they are thinking (generally they are wanting to know the body movements and where they should be standing, whereas I am thinking of extension and centre).

As everyone is learning differently, and at different stages, I suggest that talk should be kept minimal so that each person can see what is relevant to them at the time. They then practise and see if they have a problem - and then another demonstration of the same technique helps them to deal with this.

Learning to copy a demonstrator is definately a skill developed through Aikido, and explaining it afterwards may prevent this skill being learnt. If you're anything like me you can sometimes get into the habit of watching a technique and then asking someone, 'was that ai-hanmi or gyaku hanmi?'.

Ian

JJF 11-14-2000 01:48 AM

Re: ai or gyaku
 
Quote:

ian wrote:
This thread has definately inspired me to try a lesson where I minimise talk.
Hi Ian!

Just make sure they don't think you're quiet because you're angry or mad about something. It can easily be mistaken and it will probably ruin practice for some of your students.

Lot's of fun and good wishes


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