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-   -   Working with beginners (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=4098)

adrian 07-05-2003 01:53 AM

Working with beginners
 
We sometimes have new guys come to our dojo to train, some stay, some go. Haven't you found it much harder and much more sincere to work with them ? it's soo interesting, he doesn't know about ukemi, he doesn't know what you'll do to him so he just reacts corectly without any false movements.

opherdonchin 07-05-2003 10:46 AM

It's always interesting to me to try to understand what makes someone 'fun' to work with. Some beginners are really fun and some more advanced students are just no fun at all.

Of course, you learn from the fun and from the unfun, too. A lot, also, probably has to do with moods and your own needs each day. Some days, I'm in the mood to move and roll and flow. Those days, beginners don't 'do it' for me.

I find that the most challenging thing about working with beginners is finding out how to get them to commit to the attack and stay connected without explicitly telling them, 'commit to the attack and stay connected.' I learn a lot from figuring out how to create this connection with someone who does not know what it feels like.

PhilJ 07-05-2003 01:19 PM

I agree with Opher... beginners are sometimes the best teachers. A beginner can be 'frustrating', but I'd actually try to put a positive spin on that. They're just great teachers. :)

*Phil

Charles Hill 07-05-2003 02:41 PM

Opher,

Why not just tell the beginners to "commit to the attack and stay connected?"

Charles

C. Emerson 07-05-2003 10:31 PM

It's tough sometimes to try hard teaching, when you get a feeling that they will be gone tomorrow. After a while, sometimes you feel that all you do is try soooooo hard to really give it your all and they leave tomorrow. It's tough

Getting students to relax also takes a while. In the begining they feel like a piece of plywood.

mengsin 07-06-2003 10:49 AM

I believe in leading the way. Beginners may not understand commit to attack and stay connected. I aslo agreed beginners are the best teachers..

Kensai 07-06-2003 11:27 AM

I've only been doing Aikido just over a year myself, but I think being the "new" person can be very intemidating.

The thing I find most difficult is training in something like Kote Gaeshi. They are told not to resist but enjoy the exercise. So when it comes to the point that I put on the lock they are all stiff.

So being the good hearted person I am I dont put it on. So then they say to me, but in "real" life.... blah blah.... I can only think to myself "be that stiff with me in real life and I'll break you".

Greg Jennings 07-06-2003 12:44 PM

I like to work with beginners to a degree. Their reactions are refreshing.

But, I do not believe that beginners are the best uke to work with.

I want someone that's giving me a serious attack, that's working to out manuever me, to maintain their balance, to reverse me, to exploit any hole that I give. Also someone that has good enough ukemi that I have a greater set of options: to change technique as appropriate, to give different atemi, to counter-reverse.

Beginners, even with experience in other arts, just aren't up to that level of training.

YMMV,

Nacho_mx 07-06-2003 05:12 PM

The first concern with beginners is helping them build their ukemi to an acceptable level that allows a safe and honest practice, speed and power come later and naturally once they achieve confidence in their ukemi. There is no point in forcing things upon them earlier than they can handle them. From a beginner one can expect the following reactions: they take a dive in fear of the technique, stare with blank eyes at your atemi which results in many bloody lips and noses, or resist it which leads to much screaming and groaning...

opherdonchin 07-06-2003 05:41 PM

Quote:

From a beginner one can expect the following reactions: they take a dive in fear of the technique, stare with blank eyes at your atemi which results in many bloody lips and noses, or resist it which leads to much screaming and groaning...
Ouch. Maybe 'from an insensitive advanced student one can expect the aforementioned treatment of beginners.' I think that it's possible to bring beginners 'up to speed' without the need for bloody lips or noses or groaning and screaming. For instance, if you are interested in figuring out how to make atemi work without hitting people, beginners are the perfect people to work with. If you can get them to respect your atemi without hitting them (or telling them they have to), then you've figured something out.

bob_stra 07-06-2003 08:12 PM

Quote:

Opher Donchin (opherdonchin) wrote:
If you can get them to respect your atemi without hitting them (or telling them they have to), then you've figured something out.

That's a damn good point! I experinced something similar last Saturday.

I went to visit a local dojo. Long story short, I ended up on the mat working shomenuchi vs kotegaeshi. Well, I'd do my shomen uchi, the other guy would intercept, atemi and move in for kotegaeshi. Thing is, I was meant to put my free hand to my face to defend against his atemi, but I kept forgetting to do so. Not on purpose mind you.

The guy started getting fairly pissed, so decided to stop and point out my mistake.

"Look, what do you do if I did this?"

Punches properly at me, stopping just short.

I automatically intercept parry and returned a punch. Which was cool, cause I did it without thinking. The point is, if you don't feel threatend (sub-conciously or otherwise)
you won't respond. I don't think that threat necessairly needs to be "actual", either.

Paul Klembeck 07-06-2003 10:02 PM

Who is best to train with?

1. Somebody much better that yourself. A great opportunity to learn by feel. Unfortunately, rarer and rarer as you progress.

2. Beginning beginners. Most realistic in the sense of not having predictable ukemi. As you progress you can find that lack of commitment and connection is not an impediment. You capture their balance, regardless of what they offer you, and control the interaction from then on. This also deals with the throwing them without damage despite resistance question. If they feel that they have no choice but to fall, even without any wrist lock pressure, they will not question realism. Pushing them to learn connection is still necessary, as it is necessary for their training, not to make your techniques work. Of course this assumes you are not a beginner yourself, as two confused people provides four times the confusion as one.

3. Non beginning beginners. Brown belts are such fun. Great for some occaisional rock and roll, and they even thank you.

4. Peers. Great fun to just play, but less valuable for real training, except for occaisional mutual figuring out what the Shihan just did type analysis.

Regarding teaching beginners to take atemi seriously, in 90% of cases, an amiable question about whether they really want to practice learning to let someone hit them will make them start dealing with atemi. It is, after all, such a reasonable question. For those that require something physical before taking atemi seriously, stop your fist close to their face, make light contact and give a light shove with your knuckle or knuckles. Target areas contain enough nerves to make that a bit unpleasant without being cruel or with any chance of bloody lips or nose. An amiable cheery "you really don't want to let people be able to do that to you" makes the medicine go down nicely, as it is clear you are really trying to help.

Paul

jeda 07-06-2003 11:33 PM

Since we meet with a university class, we have a new crop of beginners every eight weeks or so.

Its refreshing and frustrating. It forces me to perfect the basics, to learn to lead an unsuspecting uke. I learn from the way their bodies move - my technique adapts and I grow.

If nothing else, in ten years, I will have one hell of a tenkan. :)

YEME 07-07-2003 02:21 AM

From a relative beginner's pov (still white belt ...)

i have only just experienced recently what working with an absolute beginner was like.

And yes, you are perfecting the most basic techniques but it makes you look at these differently. More perfecting rather than basic 'getting grasp of general idea'.

With experienced students I know i am getting more out of the practice than they are. They offer a grasp of skill and immediate options for 'what if' questions that i won't have for a long while yet.

the one thing i, and other relative beginners can give in return is an element of surprise. not often...but on rare occassions the lack of knowledge counters their expectation that we will give boring same old routine response...and wakes 'em up a little.

but I learn different things from different people - not always dependant on their level of skill. more to do with how open they are to learning while teaching or whether they've decided they already know everything...

Paul Klembeck 07-07-2003 02:58 AM

A. Thompson wrote:

"With experienced students I know i am getting more out of the practice than they are."

False, False, False. It only seems that way, since if you and they get the same amount from training, it's a larger percentage gain for you than for them (just a percentage of total hours thing, no more). Any honest and sincere student provides valuable practice (not to mention a joyful experience).

Paul

YEME 07-07-2003 03:03 AM

Cheers Paul.

i think it must just be the uncertain beginner in me that made the assumption.

:)

PeterR 07-07-2003 03:20 AM

Granted there is a lot you can learn from beginners and for sure you can get just as good a workout with someone who has a years less Aikido as you can with someone who has a year more but - feel good sentiments aside - I would rather spend a lot less time with beginners than I do now.

1.) beginner or not - I always reserve a chunk of my practice time for basics. You can not get the most out of this if your partner needs to be tutored. What you do need to do is establish a rythme in order to perfect the basics. For that to happen your partner needs more than half a clue and a reasonable amount of confidence.

2.) Beginners do have predicatable ukemi. However, because you have to be slow and even more careful than normal there reactions are as stilted as your technique has to become. If I want to slow my technique down I specifically do that with as an advanced partner as I can find.

I like my beginning students - I invest a lot of time not because they are beginning students but because a good number of them will be good training partners. The rest are the price I have to pay. I have no problems with my seniors viewing me the same way.

kensparrow 07-07-2003 11:21 AM

I was working with a guy on his second night and he would lose his grip every time I tenkaned (I know it's really my problem not his but...) We switched techniques and I said "ok, throw a punch" expecting the typical half hearted I-know-your-going-to-do-something-to-my-arm kind of punch and instead WHAM! Right in the ribs! No hesitation at all! All I could do was thank him sincerly for showing me who the real beginner was.

rachmass 07-07-2003 11:27 AM

The only time that I am NOT working with beginners is when I am at a seminar or when my buddy Shawn comes to train. Beginners keep you honest, that is for sure. I wish I had both experienced folks as well as beginners though, because I tend to get hurt by beginners (too much muscle put into a lack of control, even on something like tenkan, can hurt someone with fragile joints). I think I learn alot from the beginners, but think Paul hit it on the head saying you have to work, and learn from, everyone on the mat.

best,

Rachel

Dave Miller 07-07-2003 01:46 PM

Quote:

Opher Donchin (opherdonchin) wrote:
It's always interesting to me to try to understand what makes someone 'fun' to work with. Some beginners are really fun and some more advanced students are just no fun at all.

I know what you mean, Opher. For me, I think the big thing is whether or not the person is there to learn. I sometimes encounter students who are simply there to try and "out do" you by attempting to thwart every technique by their resistence or lack of committment. This can be true of beginners or "non-beginners."

shihonage 07-07-2003 01:53 PM

Quote:

Chris Gee (Kensai) wrote:
I've only been doing Aikido just over a year myself, but I think being the "new" person can be very intemidating.

The thing I find most difficult is training in something like Kote Gaeshi. They are told not to resist but enjoy the exercise. So when it comes to the point that I put on the lock they are all stiff.

So being the good hearted person I am I dont put it on. So then they say to me, but in "real" life.... blah blah.... I can only think to myself "be that stiff with me in real life and I'll break you".

Kotegaeshi-undo is an exercise.

Kotegaeshi itself is a technique.

If different beginner students consistently behave in the same way (i.e. successfully resist your lock), then you are not doing the technique correctly.

Take them off their feet first, and while they're scrambling to regain their balance, stiffening their wrist will be the last of their concerns.


Quote:

Dave Miller wrote:
I know what you mean, Opher. For me, I think the big thing is whether or not the person is there to learn. I sometimes encounter students who are simply there to try and "out do" you by attempting to thwart every technique by their resistence or lack of committment. This can be true of beginners or "non-beginners."

I think this usually happens because the idea of proper ukemi is never properly explained.

I used to do this "outdo" thing quite a lot in the past, because I thought that it was correct to train that way.

I didn't realize the important of honest attack, and that I was just doing a disservice to myself and to nage when constantly giving limp, unrealistic attacks and resisting in a direction where they're about to go.

It saddens me to see that quite a lot of people appear to be doing it still.


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