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Old 09-30-2007, 10:04 PM   #1
"Mata"
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My thoughts about my dojo/sensei

Hello gentlemen,

a month ago I decided to start aikido. Me; being a couch-potato and completely untrained from the point I stopped football (When I was like 14 years old). So, even tho I found many Dojos in my town, I preferred my local Dojo which is only referenced once in the whole internet, without a website, and just one room for practicing.
So, I visited the Dojo, I spoke with the secretary (Karate trainer), she explained me that there are three kinds of martial arts currently on schedule there (Karate, Tae-Kwon-Do, Aikido), and I spoke with some of the guys waiting for the Aikido class (Advanced class, Begginers class would be the next day). The were all friendly, and they would ecstatically talk about Aikido videos/techniques all the time. I watched the whole training and then I went home really happy, since Aikido seemed great.
The next day, I was there. No uniform, me and my sport uniform. I spoke with the instructor (Sensei. God Bless my Anime japanese training!), he told me that he started Aikido 10 years ago, and he currently has 2 dans. Then I took the first class; we learned how to sit (seiza)/bow and we also learned 3 grabs (Simple ones, I-grab-your-hand-and-move-out-of-your-reach). I felt awesome. I promised sensei that I would be back, and I was back indeed. After two days, I was back there! We did another great class, we learned how to counter a grab, and we also learned how to knee-walk. Exciting? Hell yeah! I talked with the secretary again, and I registered and payed for a month. She told me that we, beginners, have lessons 3 times a week, and when we pass the first exams, we will have 4 times a week (and of course we can always come to the advanced classes just to check them out, or even advanced aikidoka can come to the beginner classes for review!). Oh man, how happy I was!
Today, after my 4th Aikido lesson (I even bought the uniform! 70$ mama-mia) I ran back to my house and checked some Aikido videos on Youtube, and I also checked other local Dojos (just to see their websites, photos etc.). And there came the bomb! My favorite sensei, my sensei that easily out-grabbed and threw his students on the floor with ease, was nothing compared to other Dojo's teachers! Aw man.. a Dojo in the same area as mine, has a sensei of 5dan. And oh my God, another Dojo (a bit away from me, but whatever) has a sensei of 4 dan! Only my sensei and another one have only 2 dan. And there came the doubt! Is my sensei good enough? Can a 2-dan sensei teach my greatness correctly? So I visited these forums, and made this thread.

To sum-up this cute story: My ecstatic-sensei that always talks about Aikido techniques and traditions on the dressing-rooms and likes the fact that I'm only 18 years old (By far the youngest in the class), is quite low-ranked compared to other teachers (senseis, would be wrong, right). Do you think that this really matters?
Also, is 3 lessons a week (2 of an hour, and 1 of two hours) enough? Because by reading this forums, I see people training 6 times a week.
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Old 09-30-2007, 10:26 PM   #2
DarkShodan
Dojo: Shuurin Dojo - Omaha, Nebarska
Location: Omaha
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Re: My thoughts about my dojo/sensei

Do you hear yourself? If you like this instructor then go train with him. Train with anyone, regardless of rank, as long as you can learn from them. He may only be a 2nd Dan but he has enthusiasm! You could switch school to a 5th or a 9th Dan and he could be a total jerk, or not have that same passion. This is your first lesson grasshopper, Aikido is about movement of energy. Where does your energy move you? Go there!

Victims, aren't we all.
-- Eric Draven
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Old 10-01-2007, 12:50 AM   #3
Sonja2012
 
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Re: My thoughts about my dojo/sensei

I have learned a lot of great stuff from people who were lower graded than me. You can learn from anyone, regardless of their rank, I think. Teaching/learning technique is important and I understand where your doubts are coming from, but personally I find it very very important that apart from technical knowledge a teacher is enthusiastic about aikido and is able to create a positive atmosphere in a dojo. So it sounds like you might be in a good place, at least for now. Enjoy!
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Old 10-01-2007, 08:52 AM   #4
Qatana
 
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Re: My thoughts about my dojo/sensei

If you really like your instructor and your dojo, then stay there. If you want to, go check out the other dojos. See which one Feels right. It may be your current one, it may be another.
In my opinion, a teacher who encourages you to explore your options is preferable to one who would forbid you to attend someone else's classes. I have no idea if this applies to your situation or not.

Q
http://www.aikidopetaluma.com/
www.knot-working.com

"It is not wise to be incautious when confronting a little smiling bald man"'- Rule #1
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Old 10-01-2007, 09:16 AM   #5
dps
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Re: My thoughts about my dojo/sensei

Your current sensei had to go through all the kyu ranks in order to become a 2nd dan. He knows what to teach you.

David
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Old 10-01-2007, 10:02 AM   #6
Dathan Camacho
Dojo: Triangle Aikido Club
Location: Bentonville, AR
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Re: My thoughts about my dojo/sensei

My wife and I have been studying learning styles.

Long story short, you're better off with a 2nd dan instructor who fits your learning style than with an 8th dan instructor who doesn't.
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Old 10-01-2007, 10:38 AM   #7
Marie Noelle Fequiere
 
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Wink Re: My thoughts about my dojo/sensei

You cannot (yet) imagine the importance of an instructor's personality in a student's training. If you click with this one, stay with him, he does know more than you anyway.
As for training only three times a week, remember, a martial class is like a piano class. You need to practice at home what you have learned in class. Wich means that you are free to practice seven days a week if you want.
You can also bring a notebook and take time to write down what you have learned right after the class. This will help you remember.
The only problem might with ukemi. You need to find at least a good thick carpet, and plenty of space. If this is difficult, try staying a few minutes after the class to roll around. Meditating can also help you. Visualize yourself executing a perfect ukemi, it will help, believe me.
Now, go train.
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Old 10-01-2007, 11:19 AM   #8
dps
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Re: My thoughts about my dojo/sensei

In case you did not read this in another thread.

http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showth...915#post190915

here is some information I found on the web. It is not about Aikido but about learning to play the oboe. However the advice works for anything.

http://www.public.asu.edu/~schuring/Oboe/practice.html

THOUGHTS ON PRACTICING
1999 Martin Schuring

"The most important thing to learn is how to practice. If you learn that, you will certainly learn how to play. Many students (and professionals too, for that matter) don't like to practice, don't do it enough, and don't use their practice time productively. Many students don't even know what to do when they are supposed to be practicing. A lot of doodling and messing around masquerades as practicing.We all know players who assert that they practice three or four hours a day, yet are rarely prepared for lessons, much less concerts. This page is intended to help with these problems.

How to Practice

How you practice is the essential point of the entire subject. If you don't do it well, it doesn't matter how much you practice, what you practice, or how often you practice. Practicing is essential to progress, but done inefficiently, it can actually be a barrier to progress. For many people, practicing is a process where they take something new, play it badly, and try to improve it through repetition. The reason they play it badly is simple: they can't play it yet. So, they begin again, play it badly some more, maybe twenty times more, and quit for the day having learned little except perhaps how not to play the passage. There is no other process in life that people begin in this way. If I ask you to build me a bookshelf, you wouldn't just collect a pile of scrap lumber, nail it together quickly, and then look at it - crooked isn't it? Instead, you would likely make a drawing, decide dimensions, buy the correct amount of wood, cut it carefully, etc. Done in this way, the assembly of the bookshelf becomes the easiest part of the process, just as the performance should be the reward for careful preparation.

Accomplishing this goal is not as difficult as you might imagine. The answer is contained in four simple words: NEVER DO IT WRONG. Never do it wrong. Every time you play the oboe, do it right. Of course, you should use good posture and play with a healthy sound production on a comfortable reed. But, you must also play the right notes in the right place with the correct fingerings. Every time. The secrect lies in repetition - frequent CORRECT repetition. Both words are important - frequent AND correct. Never do it wrong, and do it right often. If you play something ten times right and ten times wrong, even slightly wrong, you've just wasted however much time it took to accomplish that. Even worse, those ten wrong repetitions are stored in your brain for future retrieval - usually during a concert. Ninety times right and ten times wrong is much better, but remember that those ten wrong ones are still in there waiting. Play it right every single time. You have only one chance to play it right in the performance. That means you must be able to play it right every time.

Playing it right every time isn't nearly as challenging as you might imagine. All you have to do is slow it down.Play at a speed where your brain can operate faster than your fingers. Anytime you can no longer control what's coming out of the oboe, you will make mistakes. Use your metronome and slow down. Only speed up when you start to feel confident that nothing could cause you to make a mistake.

The brain commands many complex physical actions in a way that we regard as automatic. Throwing a ball, tying shoelaces, eating a meal - all are complex actions requiring thousands of muscular responses. But we can do them almost without thinking because we have repeated them so often. Musical vocabulary must be learned in the same way. Learn it once, learn it well. The difficulty is in finding the patience to repeat the passage (correctly) often enough. It may take a thousand times or more for something difficult to become secure. Worse, with this method of working you will very quickly realize just how much work remains - when you're looking at sixteenth notes and playing them as quarter notes, it's hard not to become discouraged. You may lose patience and resume the old sloppy way of working. Don't. With the accurate method of practicing, you will eventually learn the passage. The other way has only ignorance as its advantage - you will never learn the music well, but you may not know that until the concert.

How Much to Practice

How much to practice depends a great deal on the age of the student and his/her goals for the instrument. For a twelve year old beginner, thirty or forty minutes a day may well be ample. For a college music major, forty minutes should be the minimum amount of time spent warming up for a practice regimen of between three and five hours daily. Time spent beyond five hours seems to me to be unproductive - the body and mind are too tired. Less than three hours, and improvement crawls to a snail's pace.

Split the practice time into several sessions during the day. Take a break of at least ten minutes each hour and go do something else. Talk to friends, read a magazine, but don't rush off to make a reed. Take a break. Your body and mind will thank you.

Two other things are as important as practicing enough - practicing carefully (see above) and practicing every day. In many ways, practicing is just like going on a diet. You cannot go on a diet three days a week. You cannot go on a diet for just a week or two. After a week or two, you have merely experienced all of the pain and irritability without seeing any of the reward. But after a year, besides having a whole new appearance, you also have a whole new world of good habits that will keep you healthy for the rest of your life.

Students who don't practice enough usually regard practicing as work and drudgery. More practice means more work and more drudgery. This reaction simply means that the student has never practiced enough to experience the reward. Trust your teacher; do what he or she says; do it well. After six months, improvement is guaranteed. By then, you'll be enjoying it so much you'll never go back to muddling through.

After not practicing well for many years, or not practicing enough, many students report that increased practice only makes them sound worse. Since that can't possibly be true, consider that you are merely more clearly aware of your shortcomings. After a few weeks, when you've worked them out, you can start to improve.

There is no such thing as being too well prepared. You get one chance to play something correctly. At that point, you don't want a 50% chance of accuracy; you don't even want a 99% chance. You want it to be right and give the listener the impression that it was easy. Remember - in order for it to sound easy, it must be easy. There is no faking this."

As I said this was from the website http://www.public.asu.edu/~schuring/Oboe/practice.html.

Good Luck
David
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Old 10-01-2007, 11:26 AM   #9
Amir Krause
Dojo: Shirokan Dojo / Tel Aviv Israel
Join Date: Jan 2005
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Israel
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Re: My thoughts about my dojo/sensei

A more senior teacher may be important at some stages, but as many here mentioned, I too doubt if it is more important then your connection to your Sensei.

I dislike your way of selection: you should have done your shopping earlier, and not after joining a dojo. At this point, I would suggest you stay for a year or few, at least as long as you enjoy your practice. because this teacher still has a lot to teach you (even a 1st Kyu might have enough knowledge and ability for you to learn a couple of years).
A higher ranked teacher might be better, mostly due to his additional experiance, but changing a dojo may ruin all your enjoyment of learning and is not worth it.

Further, each person should find the right teacher for him at his current stage. This teacher may not the best teacher in general nor the highest ranked.

Amir
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Old 10-01-2007, 11:30 AM   #10
James Davis
 
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Re: My thoughts about my dojo/sensei

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
To sum-up this cute story: My ecstatic-sensei
I would think ecstatic to mean that he loves what he's doing,
Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
that always talks about Aikido techniques and traditions on the dressing-rooms
doesn't "clock out" when he leaves the mat,

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
and likes the fact that I'm only 18 years old (By far the youngest in the class),
and doesn't mind training with newbies.
Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
is quite low-ranked compared to other teachers
Most teachers are. He has something to offer you, and it seems that he actually wants to share it.

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
Do you think that this really matters?
No, but then I'm only a sandan.
Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
Also, is 3 lessons a week (2 of an hour, and 1 of two hours) enough? Because by reading this forums, I see people training 6 times a week.
Don't worry so much about what other people do.
Train when you can, learn what you can, devote yourself to the art, and maybe some day you can teach that extra class.

"The only difference between Congress and drunken sailors is that drunken sailors spend their own money." -Tom Feeney, representative from Florida
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Old 10-08-2007, 05:37 AM   #11
roadster
 
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Re: My thoughts about my dojo/sensei

Good points on all of the above. Point is, there is nothing that a 5th Dan knows that a 2nd doesn't when it comes to what you need to learn.

The level of experience training others varies from person to person.
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Old 10-09-2007, 10:01 PM   #12
John Bernhard
Dojo: Aikido of East Alabama
Location: Auburn, AL
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Re: My thoughts about my dojo/sensei

I smiled when I read this post. The color belt or the number of your instructors Dan rank makes no difference. When I first started out back in 1998 my instructor was still a White Belt (1st Kyu-the last white belt), and my current instructor was a 4th Kyu ( half way to black belt) when I first started. Had they put on a black belt and told me they were a 6th dan I would have believed them and not know any better. Youtube is great but realize that not all 5th Dans are the same nor are all 2nd Dans, etc. Also, what is to say that your instructor can't do those things you've seen on Youtube, have you ever seen your instructor go at a quick speed with an uke who gives a great attack? I would frankly be afraid to see what my senior instructor who is only a "2nd Dan" with 20 years of experience is capable of doing.

As has been mentioned on here the willingness of a Sensei to teach you is far more important than the level of rank he is. Both will teach you the same thing and at the same level....beginner. Its like learning math, 2+2=4 be it being taught by an elementary teacher or by a college professor with a PhD. They are still going to have to teach it to you with simple terms using a fingers and toes approach. I would stay with your Sensei if you like him and the way he teaches. He may just surprise you. Don't be concerned with what they could be learning over there. .
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Old 10-12-2007, 12:32 PM   #13
dalen7
 
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Re: My thoughts about my dojo/sensei

- Not all Dans are the same.
My teacher is a 1st kyu, he has trained for 10 years.
Im in Hungary though, in the middle of nowhere, so its a different story.

- Maybe you should have shopped around more before joining.
But since you didnt, ask yourself if you like the training?
If so, Im sure he will be fine training - he has 10 years experience on you.

- But, it doesnt hurt to drop in on other classes to check it out...get a sense of the teachers style. It seems that location is more important to you or you would have already done that as mentioned above.

- I train 2 times a week...at the end of this month I will have trained for 6 months. Time flies by, but i will admit 2 times a month is rough when your first starting off in Aikido and your learning every technique that the rest of the class is learning. So much so that you know moves from a 1st Kyu test, but not one from the 6th kyu.

My only quib has been the structure of class, but your mileage will vary. 3 times doesnt sound bad to start off - and you have the advantage of understanding the language its taught in, unlike what I have gone through, learning in Hungarian & Japanese. (fun...ha!)

What are your goals? Aikido is good for brawls. (think of bouncers grabbing people etc.) It truly seems to be about dislocating wrist, elbows and even shoulder joints...but not if someone is actually wanting to fight - say boxing/MMA.

If your wanting more than just being prepared for someone grabbing you, then you may want to practice face kicking at your local dojo. (you said they had karate?) Seriously, some Thai boxing, with emphasis on boxing, and some BJJ, etc. might be good. (didnt see those on the list of what was offered.)

Anyway...

Peace

dAlen
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Old 10-17-2007, 02:02 AM   #14
roadster
 
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Re: My thoughts about my dojo/sensei

On a side note, my Sensei has been out of the country for a few weeks and various senior students have been teaching in her place.

It has been a variety of Sempai with even a few 1st kyu. I have learned equally well from all of them with some having strengths in teaching based on their personality, experience in teaching, and expression of their own learning process.

Here is an article form this site that explains some.

http://www.aikiweb.com/teaching/rock3.html
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Old 10-17-2007, 09:51 AM   #15
Janet Rosen
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Re: My thoughts about my dojo/sensei

Quote:
David Skaggs wrote: View Post
http://www.public.asu.edu/~schuring/Oboe/practice.html
THOUGHTS ON PRACTICING
1999 Martin Schuring
Good Luck
David
WOW. GREAT article. David, thank you for posting it!

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 10-26-2007, 09:31 AM   #16
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: My thoughts about my dojo/sensei

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
Hello gentlemen,

a month ago I decided to start aikido. Me; being a couch-potato and completely untrained from the point I stopped football (When I was like 14 years old). So, even tho I found many Dojos in my town, I preferred my local Dojo which is only referenced once in the whole internet, without a website, and just one room for practicing.
So, I visited the Dojo, I spoke with the secretary (Karate trainer), she explained me that there are three kinds of martial arts currently on schedule there (Karate, Tae-Kwon-Do, Aikido), and I spoke with some of the guys waiting for the Aikido class (Advanced class, Begginers class would be the next day). The were all friendly, and they would ecstatically talk about Aikido videos/techniques all the time. I watched the whole training and then I went home really happy, since Aikido seemed great.
The next day, I was there. No uniform, me and my sport uniform. I spoke with the instructor (Sensei. God Bless my Anime japanese training!), he told me that he started Aikido 10 years ago, and he currently has 2 dans. Then I took the first class; we learned how to sit (seiza)/bow and we also learned 3 grabs (Simple ones, I-grab-your-hand-and-move-out-of-your-reach). I felt awesome. I promised sensei that I would be back, and I was back indeed. After two days, I was back there! We did another great class, we learned how to counter a grab, and we also learned how to knee-walk. Exciting? Hell yeah! I talked with the secretary again, and I registered and payed for a month. She told me that we, beginners, have lessons 3 times a week, and when we pass the first exams, we will have 4 times a week (and of course we can always come to the advanced classes just to check them out, or even advanced aikidoka can come to the beginner classes for review!). Oh man, how happy I was!
Today, after my 4th Aikido lesson (I even bought the uniform! 70$ mama-mia) I ran back to my house and checked some Aikido videos on Youtube, and I also checked other local Dojos (just to see their websites, photos etc.). And there came the bomb! My favorite sensei, my sensei that easily out-grabbed and threw his students on the floor with ease, was nothing compared to other Dojo's teachers! Aw man.. a Dojo in the same area as mine, has a sensei of 5dan. And oh my God, another Dojo (a bit away from me, but whatever) has a sensei of 4 dan! Only my sensei and another one have only 2 dan. And there came the doubt! Is my sensei good enough? Can a 2-dan sensei teach my greatness correctly? So I visited these forums, and made this thread.

To sum-up this cute story: My ecstatic-sensei that always talks about Aikido techniques and traditions on the dressing-rooms and likes the fact that I'm only 18 years old (By far the youngest in the class), is quite low-ranked compared to other teachers (senseis, would be wrong, right). Do you think that this really matters?
Also, is 3 lessons a week (2 of an hour, and 1 of two hours) enough? Because by reading this forums, I see people training 6 times a week.
o.k., back to me .......i've been practicing for 15 years on a daily basis. i teach and i train. i am technically unranked, although i have assisted in bringing kohai up to godan in other systems. so all this adds up to is train with who brings out your best. rank is but a small, and often untelling, distinction. trust yourself and train in the way that rises up to greet you. joy is joy.

Jennifer Paige Smith
Confluence Aikido Systems
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