David Fisher wrote:
Sure, Sensei demonstrates the technique several times for the practitioners to view. However, we practice this for a few minutes before Sensei moves us on to a variation, then a variation of the variation, etc. ... Is this the method for teaching aikido? Is it my Sensei, who is very accomplished and gentle in his teaching?
Is it me? (I would never approach Sensei and ask him to reformat the class structure.) I know practice would be a good solution, but that presents another problem because most of my classmates can only make the dojo twice a week at best.
David, you are in a difficult situation. Your teacher's method is one possible way of teaching. Aikido, with the occasional exception of a beginners course, is normally not taught in a linear manner. You just go and learn what you can from whatever is being taught that day. There is a great variation among teachers. Some will teach three techniques in an hour, some will teach 15 or 20. Some just show the technique a few times and then let you practice it and others explain it in detail, tell stories, and just prattle on for a while. It's all a matter of personal style and philosophy.
The reason it's difficult for you is that, as a beginner, you don't yet know the basics well enough to follow the variations. That's why most dojos either have a seperate beginners class or at least distinct basic and advanced classes. But if you only have two classes a week, you'll just to have make do with the instruction available to you. If you are really having difficulty, talk to your teacher about it. Even if he does nothing, at least you will know that he knows you are having trouble. Sometimes you just have to operate on the assumption that he won't know if you don't tell him.