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Frustrated with aikido kids classes
Dear aikiweb fellows,
I'd never have thought that I'd ever use the anonymous forum, but now I'm so frustrated that I just have to look for some advice outside my own dojo.
Since some years I regularly help at the kids classes, and I have been appointed "assistant kid teacher" recently. Not that this is a great promotion or whatever, but our sensei has realised that the kids' teacher needs some structured support and that kids classes should get better and more systematic. The real teacher is a yudansha, who gives kids classes since many years, but he does no more attend to regular classes or seminars for at least three years.
So what happens is that his technique gets worse. He becomes aware of that and tries to cover weaknesses (instead of going again to regular class) by doing longer and longer warming-up (very un-dynamic warming-up; you can still shiver after 30 minutes of warming-up exercise), hours of empty tai sabaki, uncorrect jo katas and less and less techniques. Kids don't even regularly practise falls, they don't learn the most basic techniques, and in over three years, no kid passed any kyu grade. They just don't learn anything. Obviously, this bores the students, and they dwindle away. So kids classes were always agonising in our dojo.
With the start of the new semester, we got a bunch of new kids, and they are all very motivated. And I'm there as "assistant". There is a second "assistant", too, but he doesn't come so often.
Now what did we naively imagine that would happen?
He could be happy to delegate some things - for example the warming up - to me, who is younger and wilder and could do it more dynamically, thus, more interesting to the kids. He could ask the second assistant, who is a sports teacher, to come with some exercises that show aiki principles in play form.
He could use us as uke and show some techniques, trusting that we would NEVER EVER block his non-working technique and reveal that he cannot perform it, and then we could help the kids one by one to apply the technique. So the kids could learn something.
He could us make show them falls.
He could delegate the one or other lesson to us and use the spare time to go to regular classes and get some more practice.
And what happens in reality?
He sees us as sort of intruders.
Many classes pass without that he shows one single technique.
When exceptionally showing techniques, he confuses their names (hijikime oase instead of udekime nage...), endings (finish nikyo with sankyo...) and seems to have forgotten basic notions of kuzushi and maai. We keep silence and say nothing. We don't want the teacher to lose face, we just want the class to improve.
Yesterday, there were two white belt adults participating also to the kids class. After one hour of useless single exercise, for example, solo tai sabaki for a sukumen irimi nage that doesn't work, he asks one of them to be uke for this sukumen irimi nage.
The white belt resists, and the sukumen irimi nage doesn't work.
He explains to the kids that they should do it this way.
Whenever I try to help a kid with a technique or even one of these endless tai sabakis, he does not think "now the assistant takes care of those, I could look at these" - he still corrects one after the other so that every exercise takes time and time.
When correcting someone, he does not show how to do it correctly but starts talking endlessly repeating anecdotes how at an international seminar many years ago, some yudansha were not able to do the solo tai sabaki he now teaches the kids. In meantime, the other kids start playing, punching, rolling on the mats...
He tries to show kaiten nage with the same white belt as uke, who doesn't get unbalanced and kaiten nage doesn't work. He explains that he focused on one single aspect of kaiten nage (how to get uke's hand in the right position) and that was what we should train.
He tells the two white belts to practice with each other (kids were gone at that time because kids' training is one hour, which was spent with tai sabaki and pathetic sukumen irimi nage) and intended me to wait until lesson is over. I bowed and asked them if I could join, and then he found lots of errors in all kaiten nages I executed; I suppose the greatest error was that I unbalanced uke and showed that kaiten nage could accidentally work.
I am so fed up with this situation!
Last year I once asked sensei if he couldn't very gently suggest that the kid teacher should, from time to time practice aikido techniques instead of only tai sabaki and invite him to participate again to adult lessons. Sensei said that he had already tried, but without success, and that he didn't want to hurt the kid teacher's feelings (who is normally a very sweet, old guy). I suppose that's why he came up with this "assistant teacher" scheme, but it doesn't work since the kid teacher prefers NOT to have assistants in order to keep to his preferred set of warming-up and tai sabaki exercises instead of teaching ukemi and kihon waza.
So what are the alternatives?
- Continue training, hoping the situation improves and trying to teach at least a little bit to the kids. I did that for maybe two years but it is too disappointing now to see all these new, eager kids also getting bored one after another....and there is NO improvement.
- Quit kids classes and leave them alone to the kid teacher, since that is what he wants. But then kids classes would get even WORSE.
- Ask the other assistant to take over more, since the kid teacher is less adverse against HIS participation...I suppose because he comes less often. But he also is fed up with endless tai sabaki, no or non-working techniques and kids getting inevitably bored.
- Talk again to Sensei...but I did already, and it didn't help!
What would you do????
Is there any other solution I didn't think about?
Sorry for the long text, but this issue occupies my mind too much.
Thanks a lot in advance for answers and advice!