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Old 07-07-2006, 06:37 AM   #51
MikeLogan
 
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Re: Newbies should struggle?

*points up* Nice post, YoungIn!
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Old 07-07-2006, 10:40 AM   #52
Young-In Park
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Re: Newbies should struggle?

A few hours after I posted my last comments, Aikiweb member Mikel Hamer (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/member.php?u=10532) made two seperate posts on two seperate threads on Aikiweb.

In his first post, he commented about feeling frustrated because he "fumbled around the technique" (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showth...65#post146565).

In his second post, he talked about bringing his friend to the dojo. During the class, he wasn't sure whether or not his friend was rolling properly. He wondered why his friend wasn't following the teacher's instructions nor why the teacher didn't say anything to his friend about his apparent mistakes (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=10605). His friend broke his collarbone demonstrating rolls outside of class the next day.

Advocates of the "survival of the fittest" or "learn how to learn" should consider military and/or paramilitary training; in the very beginning, there's an ungodly amount of personal attention directed towards recruits by the drill instructor/tac officer/camp counselor. In a sense, there's a lot of hand holding through the initial stages even as they try to weed you out.

Raw recruits aren't given firearms and let loose on the first day of a boot camp/academy. Usually the first time they ever see a range is weeks or months into their training program. And due to the deadly nature of the training, once again, the course is scripted and recruits go through a hand holding process.

In the USMC, recruits spend a week at the rifle range simply dry firing their weapon to learn the mechanics of shooting.

In the USAF's Red Flag or USN's Top Gun fighter combat schools, the emphasis is on learning the finer points of dogfighting.

But in aikido, it appears the standard teaching methodology is to toss novice students into the mix without actually teaching them basic movements. Its like tossing soliders into combat without knowing how to shoot or pilots into jet duels without knowing how to fly.

YoungIn Park
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Old 07-07-2006, 10:55 AM   #53
happysod
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Re: Newbies should struggle?

Quote:
there's an ungodly amount of personal attention directed towards recruits by the drill instructor/tac officer/camp counselor. In a sense, there's a lot of hand holding through the initial stages even as they try to weed you out.
Can't resist playing devils advocate here, but I can see two problems with this nice point. Firstly, it assumes that the dojo has enough instructors/seniors to devote this amount of attention to beginners without affecting the training of the more advanced students. Secondly, it presupposes that all aikido dojos are actively committed to gaining new members without some sort of "bar". Neither is always the case in my experience.

Now I'm not a fan of the survival of the fittest school of thought, but I am a fan of looking after the dojo as a whole and compromises sometimes have to be made.
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Old 07-07-2006, 10:55 AM   #54
Jorge Garcia
Dojo: Shudokan School of Aikido
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Re: Newbies should struggle?

You wrote,"in aikido, it appears the standard teaching methodology is to toss novice students into the mix without actually teaching them basic movements. Its like tossing soliders into combat without knowing how to shoot or pilots into jet duels without knowing how to fly." Young-in Park

Nice post overall but I still don't agree with you. I do all I can for the beginners and we pair them up with an advanced student and tell everyone to go easy on them. We also give them more verbal help than is normal. The feeling though that I am coming from is that as a teacher in many areas including being a school teacher, that teachers can only teach but that has no bearing on the students learning. They all learn on their own and whatever they want to learn or have the capacity to learn. A belief that a teaching methodology or creative explanations will help the students learn is externailsim and I don't believe it. I do think that all the external methods to teach students do accomplish something for them but it may not be real learning. Understanding is a process in time that is gradual so a well placed instruction can be helpful but in no way insures learning. I guess you could say it in reverse and that might help make my point. I have no faith that talking or explanantions really help the student in the learning process ultimately. Your characterization that we want to be tough on the students or make it as hard as possible presupposes that talking really helps them. I don't believe that or have faith in that like you do. All the talking in the world won't change a thing in 90 percent of my students. I hope you can see the different angle I am coming from.
Best wishes,

Last edited by Jorge Garcia : 07-07-2006 at 11:04 AM.

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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Old 07-07-2006, 11:10 AM   #55
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Newbies should struggle?

Huge difference in training in a dojo and military. I don't really think this is a good analogy. The way aikido can be trained allows for beginners to be incorporated into the training and go at their own pace/abilities with oversight from sempai and instructors. Learning is on a asynchronous/synchronous path. Military training typically follows a synchronous path and progression to a defined endpoint or goal.

I am an Army combatives instructor and only instruct Military (non-military need not apply), and even in that environment, I don't have a "sink or swim" mentality. We train hard and tough, and do not lower our standards, but in the methodology of training there is always room for those with lesser abilities and skills to grow and progress. That said, if you do not have the mental fortitude to be consistent or push, well then that is a different story. If you want to make excuses and have an ego..also a different story....but if the desire is there...anyone is always welcome on my mat.
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Old 07-07-2006, 11:24 AM   #56
Nick P.
 
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Re: Newbies should struggle?

I think I see a clearer question now, or in fact it is the original question:
How to begin teaching aikido to new (i.e. no previous martial arts training) students?

Obviously the answer to that question is not going to be the same answer as
...to a student after 1 year of training?
...to a student after 5 years of training?
etc.

I think it might be fair to say, after all the excellent posts, that there is no one best or preferred way.
Each (yes, each) way has it's advantages and disadvantages. It is up to the teacher to choose which they prefer, and up to the student to decide if they feel they are being taught well.

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Old 07-07-2006, 11:38 AM   #57
dps
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Re: Newbies should struggle?

Quote:
Miles Calunod wrote:
I have read/heard more than once now that instructors seem to favor having students struggle through techniques at the early levels of aikido.
Maybe some of the struggling through technique is more to do with the student than the teacher favoring it. I just recently restarted Aikido in a different style after 16 years. I have 5 years experience from before and I am struggling. I understand my sensei's verbal instruction and still have trouble doing the technique right. My mental confusion is exactly like when I first started.
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Old 07-07-2006, 11:38 AM   #58
Ron Tisdale
Dojo: Doshinkan dojo in Roxborough, Pa
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Re: Newbies should struggle?

Quote:
But in aikido, it appears the standard teaching methodology is to toss novice students into the mix without actually teaching them basic movements. Its like tossing soliders into combat without knowing how to shoot or pilots into jet duels without knowing how to fly.
Maybe a change in dojo is in order. I know that the yoshinkan dojo I've been to don't do that.

Best,
Ron

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 07-07-2006, 02:56 PM   #59
Young-In Park
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Re: Newbies should struggle?

Quote:
Jorge Garcia wrote:
Your characterization that we want to be tough on the students or make it as hard as possible presupposes that talking really helps them. I don't believe that or have faith in that like you do. All the talking in the world won't change a thing in 90 percent of my students. I hope you can see the different angle I am coming from.
You are mistaken to characterize my teaching methodology towards beginners is standing on the mat and talking until I'm blue in the face.

Teaching aikido to novice students should simply consist of them following simple instructions and movements. It doesn't mean making them listen to the teacher lecture them about peace, love and harmony.

I many aikido schools, novice students simply try to keep up with the rest of the class whereas a more detailed, step-by-step instructional program would help.

In another post, someone commented about the disproportional amount of the teacher's time spent with beginners and how that would affect advanced training. Also they commented about certain standards.

It would be incumbent upon the teacher to multi task (teach different lessons to different groups on the mat at the same time like I saw one teacher doing in Japan) or delegate the task of teaching beginners basic movements to a more experienced student.

Although teaching beginners basic movements would be dreary to teachers, there's more the teacher should be looking for than whether or not the student can imitate this or that. Among some of the other things, but not limited to, that the teacher should be looking for in a novice student is whether or not they can follow basic directions, have the requisite coordination, demonstrate desire to learn, etc.

In effect, the student is auditioning for the teacher, who will afterwards make a decision whether or not to invest more time into teaching the student. Because the teacher's time is limited, the teacher must peform the educational equivilant of triage, determining who will benefit the most from their instruction.

As far as having a teaching methodology and it being mostly external (I am not a teacher and am not familiar with learning theory), I would suspect everyone goes through that phase before internalizing information.

For example, you probably learned the alphabet by tracing the letters on a piece of paper with two thick blue lines and a dotted blue line in the middle. And you were taught the alphabet in order (ie ABC). As far as I'm concerned, this is a teaching methodology.

You also probably learned how to drive a car holding the steering wheel at 10 & 2. You'd probably wouldn't teach someone to drive holding the wheel with one hand at 12 or 6. Again, this appears to be a teaching method to transmit information in an organized manner instead of a haphazard fashion common found in aikido schools.

I'm simply advocating a teaching methodology to beginners. But ultimately the teacher shouldn't be pigeon holed into blindly following the lesson plan. While they may have something in mind to teach, of course they should adapt to the composition of the class, class size, skill level of the people, etc.

YoungIn Park
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Old 07-07-2006, 04:17 PM   #60
Jorge Garcia
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Re: Newbies should struggle?

Obviously, you didn't understand me but I am glad to yield to you. The floor is yours.

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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Old 07-07-2006, 04:20 PM   #61
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Newbies should struggle?

I love teaching beginners! They offer an innocence and empty slate of honesty that is wonderful to work with (and challenging). Not that I am all that advanced, but I do find it much more enjoyable to work those that have little or no background over those that may come to train with black belts in other arts.

While they may have some basic skills, they many times also have alot of baggage and preconceptions about right and wrong that causes issues and gets in the way of learning.

I don't really teach aikido per se, but budo that follows aikido principles. I start out in the guard 90% of the time. What I like about it I have found is that is gives the best connection between centers and allows for students to explore the connectedness and learn how to control hips and move correctly without all the other stuff.

I know in aikido we start out with ashi taiso and irimi/tenkan...and I do that too....I find it much harder to get them over the whole "clashing" thing when doing irmi tenkan exercises by starting on the ground and working outward toward kokyu etc. We then go to knees and do kokyo tanden ho, and then some irminage etc...

To me, it does not matter your ability beginner or advance...it is all the same thing just must adjust for ability. Starting on knees and the guard is a huge equalizer that factors out all the other "garbage" that gets thrown in by beginners and advance students.
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Old 07-07-2006, 04:45 PM   #62
Janet Rosen
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Re: Newbies should struggle?

the question of pedagogy is pretty wide open in aikido: the field ranges from a formal syllabus where each student in the dojo knows what physical skill/movement/technique she is working on to a do-whatever-the-silent-instructor demos approach. Pretty much leaving it to the student to find the dojo with a culture/teaching method that best suits her.
As a beginning student with poor proprioception and not a good visual learner, I relied on movement of my body plus verbal cues (often I had to talk my way aloud through a technique in order to not stand paralyzed and confused) AND it took me months to be able to forward roll.
After over 10 yrs, membership in 3 dojo, and attending seminars w/ instructors representing literally the full spectrum of styles, I've decided that the step by step approach is highly effective for some learners but not all, that there is probably little reason other than "Tradition!" for the "watch me and do it" style., and that personally I like an approach that encourages parallel development right from the start of "what foot goes where" with "how does it feel." YMMV....

Janet Rosen
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