Teaching in the times of lawsuit.
A few years ago, I was in New York, and I was watching an instructor teaching a Karate class for kids. I know that this man is an excellent guy as well as a very good instructor, so I was at first a bit puzzled by what I saw. He was standing in front of the class with his hands behind his back, shouting instructions and corrections but never getting near the kids. Then I understood why he did that: fear of being sued by some hysteric parent for "touching" their kid. Wow. I often taught kid's and beginner's classes, and it seemed impossible to me to avoid physical contact, especially with the newbies. I would touch the hand that was a to execute the next block, I would grab a kicking foot to show that the toes were pointing to the wrong direction, I would gently press the head of a kid as he/she was moving to show that they needed to keep their knees bent. Where I live, we do not yet have this hysteria of suing people for event getting near our child. I took dance classes for two years before I found my way in the martial arts, and it seemed natural for the teacher to gently guide clumsy little beginner limbs through a new exercise, and the parents watching the class would think that a teacher never getting near a student to correct them was not doing a good job. In fact, as
I observed these New York kids perform their kata, it seemed to me
that there was room for improvement, even for those wearing advanced belts (on another hand, they were ferocious fighters).
So I am wondering: how, then, does an instructor teach Aikido?
What happens to the law of unity under the eyes of some worried parents? In my school, we do not have many children, and, since I am the shortest adult, Sensei sometimes pairs me up with his ten year old daughter, when no other child is available. If we were in another country, how would the other parents react to my telling her that her technique failed because she stepped to far from me?
How does a male student deal with being paired with a woman, for how can one perfect a technique without trying it on someone bigger and stronger? How do you guys deal with that?