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Old 04-01-2004, 08:17 AM   #1
Location: Maidenhead
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 167
United Kingdom
Teaching, & its impact on me

I have noticed that since I started teaching, I spend much more time thinking about aikido while off the mat than I did when only training. I think this is because I have to really study what I am doing much more deeply than I did before, in order to be able to explain it to others.

Perhaps this is why teaching can be so beneficial to one's own aikido.

A downside (?) is that my aikido is becoming much more personal to me and this is colouring what I teach. I think that, as a junior instructor in my organisation, this is leading me to teach my own view of aikido rather than 'the basics'. I study Yoshinkan Aikido, where 'the basics' are very clearly defined and not very open to interpretation. However I spent the first half of my aikido life in ki aikido and aikikai. I am now finding that I am no longer teaching the standard Yoshinkan syllabus, but spending more and more time looking at other aspects that seem to be relevent to me. That is to say I am not changing the basics but spend a lot more time studying the principles behind the techniques, rather than the techniques themselves.

For instance, this week I introduced the 31 jo kata. Jo is not even in the Yoshinkan syllabus. Another example - there are no ai-hanmi techniques in our grading syllabus, but I think there should be, they are a great tool for learning to blend, and are just good fun. So I do a lot of these.

As a result, some of my beginners are getting a broad experience, but do not know all the techniques needed for their first grading.

I admit, sometimes I do go off on one, and on Tuesday I was talking about how the first movement in Shomenuchi ikkajo feels to me. I glanced at the line of students and saw one of them look at another with a puzzled frown on her face. Kind of a "where has this guy gone?" look.

As my experience of teaching grows, I have gone through many stages. The first few months my biggest problem was how to structure a two hour class. Then it was how to interest and encourage the class. Now my biggest challenge seems to be focusing on their aikido, not mine.

Calling all teachers. How do you differentiate between what aikido in its 'pure sense' is, and what it means to you. Can you even try?

It would be so much easier if I'd only ever studied Yoshinkan Aikido. Breadth of experience seems good to me, but it doesn't half make life more difficult when it comes to teaching!


Justin McCarthy
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