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Old 03-14-2007, 07:23 PM   #12
eyrie's Avatar
Location: Summerholm, Queensland
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 1,126
Re: Teachingsyllabus

Hi Neil,

Let me preface this by saying that I am by no means criticizing the structure of your syllabus or the way in which it might be taught. I understand the issues, limitations and restrictions required of university course level modulation. And I agree, there is no right or wrong way to teach - only better ways to accomplish the intended learning objectives.

Neil Mick wrote: View Post
Well, IMO: falling is one of the most important things for a beginner to learn. Also, from a beginner's perspective, it's the most practical skill that one can take away from the mat.
This is where I differ. I'm not particularly interested in teaching someone how to fall - either nicely or learning to take a fancy dive. Falling safely... yes... but only if their balance is taken.

My primary focus is on conveying the principles of the literal meaning of ukemi... i.e. to receive force with the body, rather than ukemi as an exercise in falling down safely for the sake of falling down. So for me, these basic "falling down" and tumbling skills are incorporated as part of the "warm up" drills, rather than part of the technique learning proper.

The 2 main ways of escaping from a technique safely, when all else fails, at a beginner level, is front and back roll. In that regard, the hardest falls for a beginner, IME - for someone who is uncomfortable/fearful of falling from a height, lest they be hurt, are from shihonage, and taiotoshi.

Thus, I draw attention to the parallels with the specific "warm up" exercises that precisely conveys the use of these skills. BTW, whilst I do focus largely on "warm ups", and in particular, the rationale and finer points of performance, students are largely expected to do these exercises outside of class. This allows me to quite accurately gauge those who have or have not practiced outside of class and who require more assistance in what areas.

And since the fall from shihonage is practically the same as from kotegaeshi, I see no compelling reason to spend excessive amounts of time focusing on falling as a way to receive the technique, and instead focus on the finer points of technical application.

But then, I may be operating from a totally different set of learning objectives.

Yes, that's my criteria for evaluation as well...5th kyu requirements. Some of the other MA university Sensei's (for other MA's besides aikido) award their students belts as part of the class, but I don't. I imagine that this has to do more with whether or not they run a dojo of their own, outside the university (I don't).
I think that is usually the case, but as I am not affiliated with any organization, and I don't grade/rank my students, I have the luxury of setting the learning objectives and syllabus as I see fit. Usually that means working on what the individual student's needs are at the time. Which allows me to tailor a more personal teaching/learning approach with the student .

Within the first two weeks, I'd have covered all aspects of falling, and just beginning nomenclature of attacks. By week 4, I expect my students to understand tai-sabaki (basic irimi and tenkan); all the basic attacks; and have practiced a few techniques, a few times.
Again, I have a different approach. I see foot work, bodywork, and striking as foundational skills and more appropriately integrated as part of the warm ups and exercise drills. Students are expected to attain a modicum of skill in these basic skills by end of the 2nd lesson... in hours rather than weeks.

By the end, I expect that we each have covered comparable topics, if we are both using a 5th kyu test as the criteria for evaluation (OTOH, there's a lot of diversity in 5th kyu, dep. upon dojo, and affiliation).
Again, since I don't grade people, the learning objectives are more or less paced with the student's abilities. This allows me the luxury of developing the student on a far more personal level. Again, I seem to operating from a totally different set of objectives.

Hmm...a little different than mine. Here are the required techniques they need to demonstrate, by the class's end (not counting the take-home exam, of course):

*shomen-uchi ikkyo
*tsuki kotegaeshi
*shomen-uchi irimi-nage
*katate-dori shiho-nage (4-corner throw)
* ryote-dori Tenchi-nage (heaven-earth throw)
I wouldn't say a little different... it's very different. My students aren't graded, and are therefore free from such, IMV, "restrictive" technique requirements.

*Understanding of basic attack forms, when they are called out (see attack terms, above)
*Ukemi (forward and backward rolls)
*Irimi and tenkan
*kokyoho (seated breath throw)
[quote] I take a more "building block" approach. For me, these exercises form the core building blocks of my approach and are incorporated as part of the "warm ups". By using some of the warm up elements, students are shown how to put these together in the form of an appropriate exercise drill, or series of exercise drills. These exercise drills are then put together to form the basis of one or two technique application examples.

I believe this approach provides the student with a better appreciation of how the various elements of warm up and exercise drills are brought together in an applied setting.

But again, I may be operating from a very different set of teaching/learning objectives.

I would like my students to have a solid foundation of ukemi, so that they can find a new dojo on their own and "fit in" with any style of aikido.
Again, a very different objective. I prefer students to have a solid foundation in basic body skills so that they can fit in to any martial art they choose to do.

Thanks for sharing your perspectives.....But thanks for the feedback, Ignatius. I'm always curious to hear about beginner's courses, and this exchange provides food for thought.
A pleasure... and likewise.

Last edited by eyrie : 03-14-2007 at 07:38 PM.