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Old 06-21-2012, 11:03 AM   #52
Dojo: Aikikai de l'Université Laval
Location: Sainte-Catherine-de-la-J.-C., Québec
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 292
Re: Teaching .... I have a question.

George S. Ledyard wrote: View Post
Hi Chuck,

Anyway, were I to do my own thing... I would do two things. First, I would do what the Systema folks do. You want to have a certified "study group" at your dojo, fine. They'll put you up on the website. Then, they need to see you. You need to have the senior folks to your dojo and you need to show up in Toronto or around the country for training with Vlad or Michael. Your status as an "approved" instructor needs to be re-certified YEARLY. They don't see you actively training and getting better, they take you off the website!

Second, I would not only fail students testing who do not measure up to a standard, but if and when someone failed a test, I would make it clear that it was a failure of his or her teacher, not a failure of the student. I can guarantee that if, for instance, a student showed up for a Shodan test and he or she failed because their sword work was incompetent, and the teacher was chewed out for allowing someone to show up for a test looking that bad, you'd have a whole bunch of instructors falling all over themselves to get better at those skills themselves. Right now one encounters teachers who will actually admit they are not comfortable with whole portions of the curriculum which they are responsible for teaching yet they do nothing to solve the issue. They don't show up at camps, they don't invite teachers that are expert in these problem areas, they just show up each year at those events they do attend, if any, and look just the same each year. Then, predictably, their students look mediocre, at best, when they test.

I think a system of teacher certification and dojo certification would be the way to go. A dojo that was run by non-certified teacher would be a designated as being provisionally affiliated. Then, when the Chief Instructor received his or her teacher certification, the dojo would receive full membership certification. As far as I am concerned, part of the requirements for full teacher certification would be having a couple of students do their Shodan tests at a solid level.

Anyway, that's how I'd do it if I was doing my own thing... but I suspect that if I did something like that, I'd have a very small organization with a small number of excellent people. I do not think it likely that very many people would want to step up and meet such standards when they could affiliate with other groups that didn't have these requirements or go independent where no one would tell you what to do. I admire the fact that the Systema folks are attempting to do this. They already have a problem with folks not meeting their standards, being de-certified as approved study groups but continuing to teach some watered down version of their interpretation of what they learned in their brief exposure to the senior teachers. They get taken off the website but, short of visiting these schools and challenging these bogus teachers, there isn't much that anyone can do about these folks. Aikido is full of folks just like this who run dojos but do not do anything to increase their skills, do not get out and train and who, if pushed on the issue, would simply go independent so they could continue to do their own thing without interference.
What my federation, the USAF, has put into place in the last few years goes somewhat in this direction in that the teaching certificates are renewd yearly and you are required to show up to seminars taught by the shihans of the technical comittee. There is no dojo certification, but a dojo without a certified instructor is not authorized to grade it's own students, even for the lowest kyu grades.

The real test though will be quality control. Will those in charge be willing to deny the certificate to people they judge unworthy or to take it away from those that do not live up the commitments. There is no way of doing this without pissing people off and making a stink. I've seen people get failed for horrible dan tests complain how it was all politics, that they only failed because they didn't go to the "right" seminars (i.e. those taught by the shihans on the testing panel).

Jonathan Olson
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