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Old 03-02-2012, 10:57 AM   #3
Location: ATL
Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 847
Re: New instructor on the block

David Santana wrote: View Post
Hi, I've just passed my shodan exam and appointed as (unofficial) assistant instructor in my dojo. so I'm pretty new to all this teaching stuff.. I need to ask you guys a couple things on teaching. hope you can give me some pointers of what I should do.

1. there's this one guy who is learning much faster than anyone that I've ever seen.. in his first class today, he was already able to do ukemi from a standing position. even though not perfectly smooth, he seems to have got the general idea. I think that's quite something.. he wasn't wearing a gi and from his hand position, he doesn't seem to have a previous experience in Aikido.

I had a quite strong urge to compliment him but I also don't want to make him get a big head or make the other students jealous. do you think I should compliment him verbally or should I compliment him implicitly by giving him more attention?

2. I have an abundant sense of humor and I'm used to make a lot of jokes while training to make myself closer to other students. but since Sensei often asks me to teach the class, I've been thinking that I should put more distance and limitation on the jokes I make with the students.

what do you think I should do? is it okay if an (assistant) instructor is overly friendly with the students or is it better if I put some distance with the students while training?

I'm asking this not only to resolve my questions, but also to find out about the training culture in other dojo, in other countries.

thanks in advance
just my opinions!

1. I think the notion in aikido (or anything really) that people who excel shouldn't be told it or complimented for it is absurd. If they're doing well, tell them. If it's just ukemi, I wouldn't make too much of a big deal about it. If he's showing similar progress elsewhere, tell him. I'd go so far as to hint at having to push him harder and increased expectations. Many people do respond to that sort of thing positively and you can do all that without doting on someone in the middle of class, besides, other people probably recognize his progress and may respond with better effort themselves.

2. This isn't the corporate world, though I find that sort of separation in the corporate world just as absurd, it's even more absurd to me in martial arts. Treat people like people and let someone else worry about that hierarchy stuff. It's different for everyone, but I've never learned well or wanted to learn from (that's probably why) the people who act like their position prevents them from treating me like anyone else, aikido or elsewhere. Be yourself.
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