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Old 06-09-2011, 05:36 AM   #1
"neodlucan"
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slow progress

Hello!

I have been training in an unaffiliated dojo for a little bit more than 6 months. I try to attend the training as often as possible.

When I started I have been ''the youngest'' so I could learn new things and upgrade my techniques no matter who I trained with because everybody was better.

After a couple of months I was already better than some student that have been there for half a year or so. That is probably why the teacher often asks me to show the techniques to them (all of us are training for 5th kyu). The problem is that I have to train with a boy who's 14-15 years old and doesn't seem to try hard enough, and a mature woman who's 35-40 and has a really poor ukemi, and a new student who just started coming and is still too stiff. (I'm 21). When doing techniques with them I constantly have to be super careful not to execute them with too much speed and power (and that is very difficult because I am still not good enough to make it work in slow motion). When I ''forget myself'' there's always someone to remind me to ''slow down''.

When we train the teacher always pairs up individuals of same rank (which seems to be awarded based on years spent training and not skill so it is pretty much 1 year = 1 rank), and there is no switching partners during training. That means that I get to train with people that are more experienced rarely. And in those occasions it feels that my technique has improved more than in 10 hours training with the usual partners.

What should I do? I'm not really a quitter and I like aikido and would prefer to solve the problem rather than to change the dojo or similar.

P.S. Sorry for my english and attitude
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Old 06-09-2011, 11:42 AM   #2
lbb
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Re: slow progress

You have described how training is done at your dojo (only training with someone of the same rank, not changing partners during class, etc.). Those are not typical of aikido dojos in my experience, but apparently that is how people train at your dojo. If that doesn't work for you, you need to seek another dojo. I think it's wise to be careful, however, about judging how good you are or how good anyone else is, based on only six months of training. There's a sarcastic quote I've heard -- I don't know the origin, but it goes, "When I was 18 years old, I thought my dad was pretty stupid. By the time I graduated from college, it was amazing how much he'd learned." The meaning, of course, is that a novice is not in a good position to judge someone else's abilities. But if you really believe that you're wasting your time training with people that you're convinced are inferior to you, then it is probably time to move on. It won't be any more pleasant for them to train with you than it is for you to train with them.
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Old 06-09-2011, 12:32 PM   #3
"neodlucan"
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Re: slow progress

Thank you for your reply.

I knew that my post looks egocentric and ''know it all'' but I tried to be as objective as possible. Today was the same scenario. I worked with the new guy and it is like I'm in charge. The teacher just says to do the 5th kyu program and I have to take the role of the teacher. I'm aware that I practically don't know anything yet, so the thing that frustrates me the most is me being trusted with someones development and progress while nobody is concerned with mine. I don't want to change the dojo because this looks like the best option for me (and it's not that I can choose a lot where I live).
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Old 06-09-2011, 12:33 PM   #4
Michael Hackett
Dojo: Kenshinkan Dojo (Aikido of North County) Vista, CA
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Re: slow progress

Mark Twain said "When I was 15 I was amazed at how stupid my father was. When I turned 25 I was amazed at how much the old man learned in ten years." He must have known my dad too.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 06-09-2011, 12:43 PM   #5
"neodlucan"
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Re: slow progress

Quote:
Michael Hackett wrote: View Post
Mark Twain said "When I was 15 I was amazed at how stupid my father was. When I turned 25 I was amazed at how much the old man learned in ten years." He must have known my dad too.
What are you trying to say? That my teacher's decision to let me (after 6 months) to teach another student without his supervision is a good idea and I will eventually understand that myself?

All I know is that I didn't come there to lecture anyone, I came because i want to learn.
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Old 06-09-2011, 01:33 PM   #6
jonreading
 
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Re: slow progress

Sometimes when we have to look for the education in our training. It sounds like you are training with partners who may not excel in the physicality of aikido; or may not be able to participate in more physical training. If you choose not to pursue another aikido dojo you may need to re-think the learning process. For example, in algebra it is possible to solve an equation with one variable, wherever that variable may exist in the equation. Perhaps you need to switch your variable... Maybe take advantage of what stronger experience your partners have and extract education from those experiences.
It would then become your responsibility to make up the physical training maybe through solo exercises or private lessons. Attract friends to train with you. Sometimes we forget that a dojo is made up of... us. We show up to class and if no one is on the mat it is sensei's fault. We forget it is our responsibility to make the dojo attractive to prospective students and solicit them to train. Sensei may be a lot of things, but rarely is she a marketing guru.
Anywho, a couple of options to consider...
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Old 06-09-2011, 01:44 PM   #7
NagaBaba
 
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Re: slow progress

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
What should I do?
Change dojo as fast as possible. You will not learn anything there.

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 06-09-2011, 01:54 PM   #8
Larry Cuvin
 
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Re: slow progress

Neodlucan, teaching is another opportunity to learn and polish your technique. Ever think of what you would do if you wind up teaching a new student bigger than you who is stiff and resistive? Are your techniques up to par to actually be effective but not injure? Ask the opinions of your sempais why are they still hanging around?

my 2c

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Old 06-09-2011, 02:19 PM   #9
Diana Frese
Dojo: Aikikai of S.W. Conn. (formerly)
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Re: slow progress

I seem to remember Fire Marshall Bob (Jim Carrey, sorry I can't spell) saying "Somebody stop me" even though I just caught a glimpse of that skit the line stuck with me....

Well, here goes, I'm devil's advocate. I had a little YMCA dojo for a few years in my home town and had a student who was already almost shodan in I think it was shorinji kenpo, but who wanted to try Aikido, so he became my assistant because he attended almost all the classes.

Another student was a rugby player and liked a lot of exercise (I think he ran four miles on the upperstory indoor track before he could calm down enough to take class)

I had them help with the beginners and their reward was they got to "bash" (what they called freestyle) each other the last portion of each class. Fortunately it was a two hour per nite class Monday thru Thursday. (However, Steve usually missed Mondays, recovering from rugby on the weekends)

One day Steve said that while he felt it was important to help the beginners he wanted to "bash Larry so bad...." They had a great time practicing with each other and each was lucky to have found a great training partner. But helping the others was part of the deal and they did it well....

I could tell you more about our little group, but I guess my suggestions might be -- maybe your teacher sees you have a talent and wants to develop it by having you help others. I know that although it was great to have Larry and Steve in the class, I as the teacher, learned a lot from working with beginners also,it really is a learning experience.

It was great having Larry and Steve, great for me to have partners to work on the homework I got from my own teachers with.... so I was lucky to have both kinds in our little dojo.

Maybe you have a friend you could bring to class, maybe someone from another sport or martial art who might be able to catch up a bit more so you would be helping beginners and having a training partner you enjoy working with.

These are just guesses, but I'm posting them in case something might ring a bell...

Last edited by Diana Frese : 06-09-2011 at 02:22 PM. Reason: added a word for clarification
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Old 06-09-2011, 02:36 PM   #10
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: slow progress

To the original poster: could you talk with your teacher about this? Could be that he or she sees that you are progressing nicely, and doesn't realize that you are feeling frustrated at the same time and in need of more challenge.

Have you visited the other available dojo in the area? That might be a good idea to do even if you're not planning to change. You might just happen to visit a dojo that is a great fit. Or if it turns out that they are all terrible, at least then you know that you've made the best choice you can.

There are things that you can focus on in practice that aren't dependent on who you partner with. For example making sure that you're always standing and moving in a balanced way is a very useful thing to focus on in the first years of practice. Or for example staying as relaxed as you can even if your partner is stiff. Doing a teachnique while at the same time staying aware of your surroundings.

Maybe other people have more ideas.

Pauliina
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Old 06-09-2011, 02:37 PM   #11
Diana Frese
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Re: slow progress

Wow, while I was typing Larry Cuvin posted with some really good points. And when I re read the thread I found Jon had posted similar ideas to mine about bringing one or more friends....

If you decide to "hang around" as Larry Cuvin says, you could probably get some help from the senpais. I guess you feel you don't get to train with them often enough these days. By the way, I'm curious. When is the test?
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Old 06-09-2011, 02:53 PM   #12
Diana Frese
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Re: slow progress

While I was typing, a great post from Pauliina with good ideas... I'm glad people are responding to this thread. I'm learning something too from the posts. Thanks everyone.
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Old 06-09-2011, 03:41 PM   #13
Michael Hackett
Dojo: Kenshinkan Dojo (Aikido of North County) Vista, CA
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Re: slow progress

Neodlucan, in your original post you mentioned that English isn't your language, so I will take that into account. When you asked what I was trying to say, I simply was quoting Mark Twain for Mary's benefit. It is one of my favorite quotations and she couldn't remember the source. Believe me, my personality is irimi and even if English is a second language, my audience will clearly understand what I'm saying.

You describe the training model in your dojo as it is currently being practiced and also described your earlier experience there when it was different. Perhaps your sensei wants those of you testing to work together on your test requirements. Perhaps your sensei sees a quality in you that he wants to polish. Perhaps your sensei sees weaknesses in you that he wants to correct. Perhaps your sensei is a lousy teacher. And perhaps you haven't enough experience to determine which it is and should ask your teacher. Once you have that answer from the source, you can determine your next course of action.

You have no reason to apologize for your English, but if you feel it necessary to apologize for your attitude, please consider changing it.

Michael
"Leave the gun. Bring the cannoli."
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Old 06-10-2011, 02:50 AM   #14
grondahl
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Re: slow progress

Are there other dojo options available? I would strongly suggest checking them out.
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Old 06-10-2011, 04:50 AM   #15
Diana Frese
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Re: slow progress

Hi "Neodlucan" I just woke up but will do the best I can. Although you are anonymous, which is probably a good thing, because you can be more frank, I think the way you phrase things can be considered a good attitude in a way. You are expressing your hopes and needs, and on the other hand, the situation as you find it.

The others are right to say that you can learn and develop in your present situation, but the other others are also right. You might have a greater need right now to train with people more similar to your physical situation and your particular enthusiasm. I'm thinking back to my student Steve, whom I mentioned. I don't know where you live, but from what I heard, Rugby is pretty active, strenuous and involves a group of extremely fit individuals running around, piling on top of each other, in what many call "elegant violence". Steve was able to train with his peers in his own sport and then come to Aikido during the week, and he was fortunate to have Larry to train with part of each class and Larry was the assistant instructor at the time.

If the Aikido dojo you are presently attending is the best option for you (I'm not sure whether your reasons are distance or some other reason...) maybe you want to add another activity to your schedule even if it meant attending fewer Aikido classes. I'm just guessing by your age. For example my dad loved tennis up until the end of his life in his mid eighties -- he could always find people his same level and had a great time in friendly competition with them.

To be fair to those who suggested change dojos, maybe you do feel the way I just guessed, but maybe instead of changing dojos, you can add another activity to fulfill those needs of a more physical form of training than with your present training partners.

Or you could wait until the advanced people work out with you more, maybe after the next test. I wonder how the sensei will handle your request. I hope he or she understands you do seem to be sincere. You still might be given the advice to be patient and learn from that, though....

I think the question of attitude would be not recognizing the learning opportunities where you are presently training. But in asking your questions, you seem open minded. The ones who say change probably mean that it's not good to train in a situation where you are unhappy and feel you cannot learn, or get the physical training you feel you need.

English is my native language, but I find it hard to express myself clearly without rambling... sorry about that... but at least I tried.
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Old 06-10-2011, 05:03 AM   #16
"neodlucan"
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Re: slow progress

I would like to thank everyone for sharing their opinion.

@ jonreading: majority of my friends would like to do ''hardcore sports'' and not ''dancing'', and the ones that would like to take up aikido cannot because of their obligations. Oh, and I will try to switch my variable

@ NagaBaba: why makes you say that?

@ Larry Cuvin: ''Ever think of what you would do if you wind up teaching a new student bigger than you who is stiff and resistive?Are your techniques up to par to actually be effective but not injure?''
That is the problem - I still don't have that ''middle mode'' that would allow me to perform well without endangering others who are trying to overpower me. I do work with such a person and there are usually 2 results: I cannot finish or even start the technique or I have to use my force and speed to go through but that method is not safe.

@ Pauliina: I liked your ideas the most. I will certainly visit the other dojo and focus on things that do not depend on my partner.
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Old 06-10-2011, 05:06 AM   #17
"neodlucan"
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Re: slow progress

I would like to thank everyone for sharing their opinion.

@ jonreading: majority of my friends would like to do ''hardcore sports'' and not ''dancing'', and the ones that would like to take up aikido cannot because of their obligations. Oh, and I will try to switch my variable

@ NagaBaba: why makes you say that?

@ Larry: ''Ever think of what you would do if you wind up teaching a new student bigger than you who is stiff and resistive?Are your techniques up to par to actually be effective but not injure?''
That is the problem - I still don't have that ''middle mode'' that would allow me to perform well without endangering others who are trying to overpower me. I do work with such a person and there are usually 2 results: I cannot finish or even start the technique or I have to use my force and speed to go through but that method is not safe.

@ Pauliina: I liked your ideas the most. I will certainly visit the other dojo and focus on things that do not depend on my partner.

@ Diana: my teacher said yesterday that I can take the test whenever I feel like it, but I think that I will wait until the others are ready as well. And I still don't feel confident enough with the bokken.
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Old 06-10-2011, 07:46 AM   #18
Dan Rubin
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Re: slow progress

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
When we train the teacher always pairs up individuals of same rank
Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
my teacher said yesterday that I can take the test whenever I feel like it
Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
What should I do?
Take the test. Then you'll be able to work with more experienced partners.
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Old 06-10-2011, 10:46 PM   #19
Helle Buvik
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Re: slow progress

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
That is the problem - I still don't have that ''middle mode'' that would allow me to perform well without endangering others who are trying to overpower me. I do work with such a person and there are usually 2 results: I cannot finish or even start the technique or I have to use my force and speed to go through but that method is not safe.
my personal solution to someone "overpowering" me by holding too hard when I'm trying to do the technique, I'm still a beginner, and would they please ease up a little because I'm not able to safely work at that speed/strenght right now, And remind them again if they don't.

Since your current dojo seem to be your best option (to you) and if you are to train with the same people again and again, try to talk with them! Show them how you want the atack to be done, and with what force/speed. then over time they may be able to atleast become decent training partners for you

If your sensei says to teach/show them, then you do have the "autority" to tell them how they should do the atacks too, and not only the techniques. And keep at it till they learn how to do the atack in a way that let you both train safely. Learning to not put more force into an atack than my ukemi can safely handle is also a valuable lesson.

Good luck.
Helle
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Old 06-12-2011, 07:08 PM   #20
NagaBaba
 
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Re: slow progress

Quote:
Anonymous User wrote: View Post
@ NagaBaba: why makes you say that?
The set up of your dojo. Very bizarre.It looks like Mcdonald dojo.

You need to constantly train at your physical limits with partners that have various level of skills. It is impossible in your present dojo.

Nagababa

ask for divine protection Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samuhara no Ryuo
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Old 08-11-2011, 10:58 PM   #21
Stephen Nichol
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Re: slow progress

I can completely understand where the OP is coming from, however, for me, I embrace the chance to train with the new people who have not had a chance to 'learn how to take ukemi' or that do not adopt a 'proper' stance.

Training with others at 'my level' is certainly nice and I do learn a great deal from that training however I have found that for me (this may not apply to everyone) that training with beginners is greatly beneficial.

My Sensei has explained that given a chance to train with some one who does not know what they 'should be doing' (how to grab, not enough resistance, to much resistance, how to roll or fall etc..) is an excellent opportunity for me to practice developing my technique so that it actually does work, all the time.

This means that I have to do it slowly and I mean very slowly and thereby safe. It gives me time to do as others have suggested here, focus on the not only the little details of the technique but the overall 'feel' of it, so I can move as 'one' as best I can. If I can take the centre of a new person who has no idea what to expect and so does not comply/conform with that expectation, then I know I am much closer to doing it right.

Just like the OP, I have to get the technique done, let the my Uke 'feel' it on them first and then explain 'my understanding up to this point' on the second go through and then I usually help them perform the technique on me and provide just enough resistance to help them 'feel' some development in the technique.

My Sensei usually 'rewards' me afterwards by showing me more in depth explanations of the technique personally. A lot of personal training and my favorite part.. getting to practice my ukemi by attacking Sensei as fast as I can get up from the last technique while doing Jiyu-waza.

You have said you have no 'middle' speed and that your technique is unsuccessful at slow speeds and so you have to 'power through.'

I used to be the exact same way and had the same results. Even when I thought I was going 'slow' it was not nearly slow enough. My Sensei can do the technique very very slowly against much larger Uke's that I know to be very strong (Carpenter that works with all hand tools... really scary thick wrists, you get the idea.) and the techniques work, even at slow speeds.

So I am following that example. I believe that if you cannot make the technique work at slow and steady from start to finish (no stopping and starting, no 'jerking it') then it will not work at speed very well, mistakes will happen and, at speed, accidents will as well.

If all you do is train 'flowing' at speed or with just 'powering through' (using speed to compensate for not understanding the technique properly) ... when a strong, resistant, non-compliant, 'partner' gets a hold of you, chances are the technique will not even start and thus, fail.

Moral of the story is: There is always something to be learned by training with anyone... however it helps to know what you are trying to learn or you will miss it.

When training, embrace each perceived failure as understanding another way not to do it. Chip away at it enough, with enough help and guidance and the correct way with show itself to you.
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Old 08-12-2011, 12:06 AM   #22
ryback
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Re: slow progress

Hi there neodlucan.What should you do?With six months of experience?PRACTICE!Don't choose just practice!Experienced or inexperienced,stiff or relaxed,big and strong or small and flexible any kind of uke is a great "learning tool" for you at this level and for the next years.
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Old 08-12-2011, 06:46 AM   #23
Mario Tobias
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Re: slow progress

I have come to the realization that training in the dojo, not only should you polish your aikido skills but also your social skills. You'd think you dont have too much control over who you partner with but in reality you do. Practice your social and influencing skills. These are equally important as the training. Also remember that you started as a beginner similar to new starters now knowing nothing.
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