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Old 07-15-2008, 08:21 AM   #5
Dojo: Shobu Aikido of Connecticut
Location: East Haven, CT
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 1,402
Re: Techniques for beginners

What to teach beginners...

First rule - no sudden or jerky movements - safety first.

Avoid the floor as much as you can initially. Some new people tend to get scared of rolling and a poor lesson could equal never coming back. As a matter of fact, I say avoid EVERYTHING on your knees initially. Aikido has a silly enough reputation out there - new people will rarely see the analogy of techniques while kneeling to standing up.

First thing I like to start beginners off with is what my wrist and fingers look like when holding a sword (wrist up and fingers down). Then I thrust - hip level - as if I have a sword. I let someone grab my wrist and oppose my walking forward. I then change it up and do fingers up and wrist down (arm still at hips level) and they get to feel all great about beng able to stop me and crush my center. Then we switch back, and they hopefully start getting some appreaciation for technique over strength (and dare I say hand forms and structure). Everyone gets to practice the magic...

From there we go straight into shihonage, and everyone is happy. You have to explain the whole head, hand, and shoulder all glued together for safety and how to bend the inside knee for the safe ukemi. I tend to walk around and personally tell each person to breath out when falling to the floor.

Then I do movements - unde furi (the 180 degree turns with your arms out like helicoptors). I might even shorten it to 90 degree turns - but that depends on how well everyone is doing. Teaching is about judgment.

After that, I like to do yokomen uchi blending drills (because it is similar to the exercise) and eventually bring that into shihonage becuase everyone just experienced shihonage.

From there we can move to yokomenuchi kotegaeshi. I find the best thing to explain is to basically sell them "movement" for protection as opposed strength and tight muscles on both sides nage and uke. We look at taking uke's structure away with the same movement that is protecting us. When you see uke's forward shoulder dip, you can step back and create the hole for the kotegaeshi to work.

I typically end up the class with a demo of something that seems useful and readily attainable to give people something to think about and encourge them to want to come back for more fun and learning.

Good luck. I hope this helps.
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