Re: Teaching Aikido - Require Coaching Course?
Finding a dojo with the level of instruction I am speaking about is extremely rare. Often one has to travel long distances to find such a teacher. There is a great article about this subject (the distance of traveling for instruction) I read recently.
Of course one has to make determinations of their level of training based on the priorities in their life. Now that I am married, I no longer consider the option of going back to being uchideshi in a foreign country (ok, Canada....but still. They got fries in their Taco Bell combos, its a different country!) even though I often long for those days. I have no personal feelings toward the level of commitment an aikidoka takes...as long as their heart and spirit are in the right place. I have friends who have done nothing but aikido for the last fifteen years, and I have friends who attend class maybe once a week. I firmly belive there should be stringent testing requirements...but I also belive Meiyo Shodan are appropriate for those who exhibit the proper spirit and dedication, but for whatever reason can not perform as a technician. I don't want people to think I am judging, I am just speaking to this subject from my particular point of view vice a neutral one. I figure that is more beneficial to the discussion than just stating a middle ground. I definitely know how tough it can be moving around...my training and technique has suffered incredibly due to me being in the military, deploying, and being away from my teachers. I know I will likely never be quite at the same level as I was when training as uchideshi and attending approximately 17-19 classes a week. But I still train as much as I can, and I prioritize my training pretty highly in order to seek out mat time with the high level instructors in my organization (often traveling across the US border a couple hours away). Sometimes we move away, there are no dojo, and the most practical way to continue training is to start a dojo yourself. I am likely headed in that direction soon, and I will be sure to let students have no illusions as to what I can offer them...what my qualifications are.
This trusting on intuition is great. In fact, part of my training in an advanced class was to focus on this skill, or at least the awareness of it. Unfortunately, for new students watching a class for the first time, they may not recognize a place that screams "stay away!" People will have a general sense of "this is a Cobra Kai" style dojo, or the place just looks sloppy...but as far as solid, well developed dojo...all it takes is a teacher with good salesmanship and some authentic looking scrolls on a wall to suck people into a McDojo. So trusting instinct is a great start...but having a reference helps as well...particularly for new prospective students, whereas the veteran who moves around (like yourself Diana) will have a good baseline in which to confidently follow that instinct (or render recommendation to friends).
This is similar to what I was speaking to when I mentioned teaching Titles. This represents a level of instruction authorized by a parent organization. Today, these types of titles are often synonomous with rank; tetsudai, fuku shidoin, shidoin, renshi, et al. When asked what sensei, or renshi mean...people may know to reply 'teacher' or 'intermediate instructor.' A deeper level of understanding could explain that no word for word English equivalent exists and explain the sen-sei is someone who has gone before/come alive earlier in their training (hence, someone to learn from) or that renshi suggests that person has gone beyond that level to a level where their technique is more polished. This person is one who is seeking mastery of their own technique. When getting into levels of kyoshi or hanshi...the meaning insinuates a person who can recognize and pull these qualities out of another person, or another teacher. They provide guidance in ways beyond the physical.
Many times an organization simply provides these titles in concert with a certain rank...sometimes with an added cost. In the past, when M. Ueshiba was learning DRAJJ, he learned under an older system where each Title represented a grouping of techniques that person was authorized to teach others. Those titles were usually simply called "This grouping of techniques Title. Point being, those were very specific authorities granted to an instructor. The ambiguity of the common titles seen today sometimes represents nothing more than just a title given with a rank. Not saying its bad or wrong...just that, sometimes, it’s so.
Again, just spouting off my idealistic sentiments based on my traditionalist feelings toward my training!