I recently found the following post regarding things to look for in a teacher on another forum
. The author, Adrian Lee, gave me permission to repost it here. I think it is relevant reading for aikido students and prospective aikido students.
1. He's hands-on. i.e. he not only corrects you physically, but he feeds you the correct feel through touch. He also does this by coming down to just above your level, and doesn't just completely throw you around. This is especially important in the internal arts. If a teacher isn't willing to touch hands with you, it could mean a much longer path to attaining the right energy and feel.
2. He is able to explain, in plain language, the concepts and principles behind the art. A teacher should be able to clearly explain what the qualities are that you are trying to achieve, and be able to explain what to do in order to obtain them.
3. He has a training methodology that is systematic and where the art is dissected into small pieces that form the overall whole. These pieces are building blocks that eventually come together as a unified quality. Some teachers may have high levels of skill but do not possess methods that can systematically pass on those same qualities to a student, or they may not be able to explain clearly what is going on.
4. He has the goods. He has a very high level of martial art skill, can demonstrate it, and is generous with his knowledge and is willing to share. This may be an obvious point, but there are many teachers out there who build up an image of invincibility and in order to protect it, never touch hands with anyone. A teacher doesn't have to be invincible, only that his skill level is higher than yours, and you can learn something from him.
5. He takes an active interest in our development of martial art skill. He watches closely, touches hands, and feeds us the proper energies. He corrects, and individually guides each of us along, according to where we are at, and what our weaknesses are.
Be cautious of teachers who sit up on a pedestal, emanating a god-like attitude. Be cautious of the teacher who never touches you, who tells you not to question, and to practice something so that you'll get it in ten years time. While it is true that especially in the internal martial arts, a student has to have enough faith in his teacher and the system in order to train something until he is able to "feel" it, a good teacher should be able to break down the art into pieces that can be absorbed, and not just have you do a form for fifteen years, and maybe you'll automatically become an awesome fighter spontaneously. That just doesn't happen. Much of whether you develop a decent level of skill in five, ten, or twenty years will depend on you - the student, on your aptitude, your willingness to train hard, and your mindset in training. But a good teacher will make all the difference how quickly you develop. It is sheer nonsense that you have to spend ten years training in order to develop a "decent" level of skill. Of course, a "decent" level of skill is completely subjective, but you should be able to use your art within a few years of training, if the the teacher and the method is any good.