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Old 12-29-2005, 08:36 AM   #4
p00kiethebear's Avatar
Dojo: Tonbo Dojo
Location: Bainbridge Island WA
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 374
Re: teachers who don't speak

From what I understand, this is the Japanese "old style of teaching"

Out of curiosity though, is the sensei only silent when he is demonstrating the technique to everyone in the room? I mean to say, does he speak and try to explain when he stops demonstrating and walks around the room to inspect your practice? Or is he pretty much a statue the entire time?

In many ways I see this as an "east meets west" story. In Japan's early history (pre Meiji), there has never been a defined "teaching method" per se. Mostly these "teaching methods" are actually "practice methods" EG "Go strike a tree with your bokken 3000 times a day and figure it out" Remember that Japan, for the longest time, was "sink or swim" empire and thus, the teaching methods were too. American athletes and students simply take it for granted that we've had long time academic study and trial and error about how to teach people and how to teach them so they learn something quickly.

I'm not sure where I heard this next anecdote but I think there is some truth to it.(if anyone can tell me wear it's from, let me know) When Tohei sensei first began teaching in the United States regularly, he was approached several times on the mat by an American asking him "how is this technique done" or "why do we do it like this?" His response was usually along the lines of considering their inquiry extremely rude and foolish and then preceded to throw the confused student extremely hard to teach them a "lesson"

After this had happened several times he realized that the "old" way of teaching wasn't going to work for the American way of learning and began to open up the teaching method more.

Though I think there is something to be said for the "sink or swim" teaching method, I also think that it can be grossly unfair to the uncoordinated and slower learners of the dojo (and every dojo has them) As a student, you're probably paying tuition so that you can be taught aikido, not so that you can simply "watch it and try to mimic"

"Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity"
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