Cassia Rose Heatley
Out of interest do you separate your classes into skill or have everyone together? We have a beginner, mixed and yudansha classes. A fair few of our yudansha run their own dojos and only attend yudansha classes and seminars so do not mingle much with anyone toward the lower spectrum outside of seminars. Often this means that they have to judge on a first encounter if a white belt could be one month training or all the way up to 2nd kyu. This is my perception though on account of being given a rough time and struggling with yudansha at my last seminar, whereupon they told me "it is ok to struggle, you're only training one year", cue confusion and clarification that I am training 3 months, not a year. To my knowledge non-yudansha do not try to explain upwards often (if ever), but I am referring more to the beginner classes as that is where my experience so far with Aikido lies. Primarily I mean beginners of 1-3 months trying to explain to beginners 7-10 months due to no discerning belts. We have a lot of people that like to explain and normally it is taken lightly as it is only meant to help and only when someone struggles, but we do have a few that do it in a less friendly way.
PAG. I am the chief instructor of the dojo, but it is part of a culture centre, with classes offered in a variety of subjects. The dojo is basically run by an old friend and training colleague of mine, who with his wife and kids, now grown up and all yudansha, run the dojo as an offshoot of another dojo with a long history. Culture centres can be found all over Japan and are usually attached to large shopping malls. So we vet the prospective students fairly carefully and we have some entire families training, just like my friend and colleague. Some of the younger members, for example, joined the dojo when they were at elementary school and have grown up through the system, so to speak. There is heavy emphasis on being a good member of the group, and so the individual explanation is done only when necessary. I teach weapons as an essential and integral part of the art, and so the little kids get used to handling a jo and bokken right from the beginning. I have a makiwara in my garden at home and so groups sometimes come along for extra training.