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Old 03-02-2012, 10:16 AM   #1
dapidmini
Dojo: Surabaya Aikido Dojo
Location: surabaya
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 95
Indonesia
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New instructor on the block

Hi, I've just passed my shodan exam and appointed as (unofficial) assistant instructor in my dojo. so I'm pretty new to all this teaching stuff.. I need to ask you guys a couple things on teaching. hope you can give me some pointers of what I should do.

1. there's this one guy who is learning much faster than anyone that I've ever seen.. in his first class today, he was already able to do ukemi from a standing position. even though not perfectly smooth, he seems to have got the general idea. I think that's quite something.. he wasn't wearing a gi and from his hand position, he doesn't seem to have a previous experience in Aikido.

I had a quite strong urge to compliment him but I also don't want to make him get a big head or make the other students jealous. do you think I should compliment him verbally or should I compliment him implicitly by giving him more attention?

2. I have an abundant sense of humor and I'm used to make a lot of jokes while training to make myself closer to other students. but since Sensei often asks me to teach the class, I've been thinking that I should put more distance and limitation on the jokes I make with the students.

what do you think I should do? is it okay if an (assistant) instructor is overly friendly with the students or is it better if I put some distance with the students while training?

I'm asking this not only to resolve my questions, but also to find out about the training culture in other dojo, in other countries.

thanks in advance
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Old 03-02-2012, 10:45 AM   #2
Basia Halliop
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 711
Canada
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Re: New instructor on the block

Just my own personal opinion, but I would try very hard NOT give a student extra attention if they seemed quicker (or slower) to pick up new concepts. If a student is working hard and really giving the training their attention, IMO they deserve your attention, period. Besides, being quick to roll on the first day probably just means they're in good physical shape and not fearful... it might or might not mean anything in the long run. I would probably just congratulate them and tell them to practice it a lot until it gets more automatic. But I don't see what anyone would gain by making a big deal of it or comparing students.

As far as joking around, you could joke around while you're training and not while you're teaching - people will figure it out. Or you could joke around while you're teaching, too. Depends what works well for you and if your Sensei has any preferences about teaching style.

As I say, that's purely my opinion...
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Old 03-02-2012, 10:57 AM   #3
chillzATL
Location: ATL
Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 847
United_States
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Re: New instructor on the block

Quote:
David Santana wrote: View Post
Hi, I've just passed my shodan exam and appointed as (unofficial) assistant instructor in my dojo. so I'm pretty new to all this teaching stuff.. I need to ask you guys a couple things on teaching. hope you can give me some pointers of what I should do.

1. there's this one guy who is learning much faster than anyone that I've ever seen.. in his first class today, he was already able to do ukemi from a standing position. even though not perfectly smooth, he seems to have got the general idea. I think that's quite something.. he wasn't wearing a gi and from his hand position, he doesn't seem to have a previous experience in Aikido.

I had a quite strong urge to compliment him but I also don't want to make him get a big head or make the other students jealous. do you think I should compliment him verbally or should I compliment him implicitly by giving him more attention?

2. I have an abundant sense of humor and I'm used to make a lot of jokes while training to make myself closer to other students. but since Sensei often asks me to teach the class, I've been thinking that I should put more distance and limitation on the jokes I make with the students.

what do you think I should do? is it okay if an (assistant) instructor is overly friendly with the students or is it better if I put some distance with the students while training?

I'm asking this not only to resolve my questions, but also to find out about the training culture in other dojo, in other countries.

thanks in advance
just my opinions!

1. I think the notion in aikido (or anything really) that people who excel shouldn't be told it or complimented for it is absurd. If they're doing well, tell them. If it's just ukemi, I wouldn't make too much of a big deal about it. If he's showing similar progress elsewhere, tell him. I'd go so far as to hint at having to push him harder and increased expectations. Many people do respond to that sort of thing positively and you can do all that without doting on someone in the middle of class, besides, other people probably recognize his progress and may respond with better effort themselves.

2. This isn't the corporate world, though I find that sort of separation in the corporate world just as absurd, it's even more absurd to me in martial arts. Treat people like people and let someone else worry about that hierarchy stuff. It's different for everyone, but I've never learned well or wanted to learn from (that's probably why) the people who act like their position prevents them from treating me like anyone else, aikido or elsewhere. Be yourself.
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Old 03-02-2012, 11:18 AM   #4
NekVTAikido
Location: Wolcott Vermont
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 36
United_States
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Re: New instructor on the block

Free Advice:

In all cases (e.g. 99.9% of the time), don't EVER give voice to value judgements about someone else's actions (like "your rolls are good"); instead, point out the specific details you observe: "I see that your backfalls are smooth and you look comfortable with them. Many people have some difficulty there." (Or skip the second sentence, depending on the circumstance.) This practice trains your own powers of observation, and that of the students as well. It also generally amounts to more meaningful and helpful feedback. And people can provide their own value judgements, but they will always appreciate the attention you give them.

On joking - be yourself, but elevate the level of decorum and compassion, in keeping with the fact that you are now the face of a tradition or organization that you value. Be genuine, aim to express the best of yourself and of Aikido, be aware that you WILL be misinterpreted, probably quite often; but if you always act for a place of genuine good will, that will come through in the end.
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Old 03-02-2012, 11:54 AM   #5
Alic
Dojo: Sokushinkan Dojo, Vancouver
Location: Richmond, BC
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 64
Canada
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Re: New instructor on the block

Answer 1: Just compliment based on their hardwork. This student is obviously talented (perhaps even genius) but he'll become a useless dropout if he doesn't use those talents and get better through hard work. Talent only allows you to master something faster, not cheat the process. So don't say "wow, you learn fast, your a natural/genius!" That's the kind of comments that makes him bigheaded and discourage the other students who think that only those who are talented at martial arts can succeed in Aikido. This is totally the opposite, so instead, encourage them like "great hustle guys, I can see you all pushed yourselves really hard." or "good show of spirit, you all improved a lot this class."

Encourage them as a group, and that will develop a dojo esprit de corps and comradery. Compliment and reward based on hardwork and general improvement in the context of their own development. Don't compare them, as that will cause them to compete among one another and develop rifts in relationships, which is disharmonous. Let them compete instead on who works the hardest and encourage them to push beyond their comfort zone and grow.

2. Be who you are as you teach. If you use humour well, it can make the students relax when they are too overly tense or serious. I like it when the sensei jokes around a bit. My style's founder, the legendary Shioda Gozo, was quite the comedian. He talked to and joked around with everyone. When he trained he was serious, but when he talked he was funny. Being funny and not taking training seriously are two very different things.
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Old 03-03-2012, 06:14 AM   #6
philipsmith
Dojo: Ren Shin Kan
Location: Birmingham
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 312
United Kingdom
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Re: New instructor on the block

Just my ideas:

1 if the guys good say so - doesn't mean he can't improve but we all like to know we're doing well

2 just be yourself. As long as you respect everyone on the class have a laugh. I see too many instructors try to be a stern authoritarian when they are really happy-go-lucky individuals. Aikido should reflect your charachter.
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Old 03-03-2012, 07:42 AM   #7
Shadowfax
 
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Dojo: Allegheny Aikido, Pitsburgh PA
Location: Pittsburgh PA
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 884
United_States
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Re: New instructor on the block

I would suggest you put some ice on your head and then go get a copy of George Leonard's book Mastery and read chapter 5 which is all about teaching.

An excerpt ,posted here, discusses teaching different kinds of students.
http://blog.barmethod.com/ExerciseBl...FROM-MY-FATHER

Last edited by Shadowfax : 03-03-2012 at 07:50 AM.
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Old 03-04-2012, 11:49 AM   #8
TheAikidoka
 
TheAikidoka's Avatar
Dojo: Tenshinkan Dojo UK - mid sussex martial arts school
Location: Brighton
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 127
England
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Re: New instructor on the block

Quote:
Cherie Cornmesser wrote: View Post
I would suggest you put some ice on your head and then go get a copy of George Leonard's book Mastery and read chapter 5 which is all about teaching.

An excerpt ,posted here, discusses teaching different kinds of students.
http://blog.barmethod.com/ExerciseBl...FROM-MY-FATHER
I Recommend, you now take a break for a week, settle down, let it all sink in. And return to the dojo as yourself (not the instructor), and just respond naturally to any situation that arises. Thats what you are training to do after all.

Actively encourage all students to do better, go further with their physical body, and understanding of mind and spirit.

Discourage in yourself the urge overly praise people for what they are doing now, for it will change and this may start to cause confusion. Indeed as they get older it will change, and the person may get saddened by the fact they can no longer do what you said to him/her was really quite fantastic. You can prevent this. Budo is a mystery to me too.


In Budo,

Andy B

Last edited by TheAikidoka : 03-04-2012 at 11:58 AM.
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Old 03-04-2012, 01:44 PM   #9
Basia Halliop
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 711
Canada
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Re: New instructor on the block

IMO, the time to praise most and celebrate is when someone accomplishes something that was difficult for them or that they were previously incapable of. It's that continuous overcoming of obstacles that will drive a student forward (in any subject) and lead to improvement. If it came very easily or effortlessly, certainly they should know it was right so they can try to repeat it the same way next time, but for that particular person, IMO that particular thing wasn't enough of an obstacle to be worthy of all that much celebration yet.

That's part of why for me, someone rolling easily on their first day merits perhaps a passing comment but not really much more, e.g., Great, you're picking that up really quickly, it's good that you're remembering to (relax, keep your arm extended, keep your hips in this position, etc, whatever it is that people often do wrong that this student is doing right). Here's what I'd like you to try next.
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Old 03-04-2012, 07:26 PM   #10
phitruong
Dojo: Charlotte Aikikai Agatsu Dojo
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 1,794
United_States
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Re: New instructor on the block

you will make mistakes. you won't die from it. your ego might not survive.

personally, i think you should have fun with it. tell your students that wearing thong underneath the gi will increase their ki. or rub hot pepper on their buttock will help with the timing when doing aikido techniques. or.... well you got the gist. have fun with it.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
http://charlotteaikikai.org
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Old 03-06-2012, 01:50 AM   #11
Eva Antonia
Dojo: CERIA
Location: Brussels
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 209
Belgium
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Re: New instructor on the block

Hello,

our Belgian shihan, Dany Leclerre, is not only a great teacher, but also makes us laugh on the tatami.
For me, that's one of the reasons why I just LOVE his seminars.
Go there, learn something and have FUN.

All the best,

Eva
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Old 03-10-2012, 06:43 PM   #12
edshockley
Dojo: Aiklikai of Philadelphia
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 76
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Re: New instructor on the block

There are as many teaching styles as there are dojos. What works for one student turns off another. Luckily students will learn simply by practicing Aikido. So as long as what you do does not offend your sensei and creates an opportunity for students to perform technique then you really can't go wrong. I try to talk and demonstrate as little as possible and simply allow the students to decipher a technique through their bodies. there is a practical truth to Aikido that is more instructive than anything we as instructors can add.
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Old 03-13-2012, 09:42 PM   #13
Zoe S Toth
Dojo: Seidokan Aikido of South Carolina
Location: Columbia, SC
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 38
United_States
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Re: New instructor on the block

I'll address the questions relative to their complexity:

First, I've noticed people tend to follow their teacher's lead. Our Sensei is hilarious and often makes a quib or two each class that busts me up. His teacher was the same way. Of course, if your Sensei is rather tacturn I feel you must respect his lead and cautiously introduce laudable material. Or straight up ask him if he feels that is acceptable behaviour in his dojo.

Secondly, I can't claim to be talented in Aikido (I really don't know anyone who can to be fair, although I know of many hard workers.) but can claim natural talent in other matters. Nothing helps me less in art or cuisine when an instructor wastes their breath saying I'm naturally talented. I want feedback on how I am doing. And most of all a bit of praise when I've worked my butt off on something- even if I managed to land flat on my face.

It's also not fair to give talented students MORE attention because they are talented. That is a vicious cycle waiting to happen- what about the less talented kids who work hard? Are they less deserving? Students who roll well from day one, in my experience, are often athletic and/or have previously learned rolling. Ever see a fat, clusmy kid do amazing roles the first day? No. Ever see the slim, athletic kid do a great tuck and roll the first day? Hell yes. Neither ones deserves more attention than the other just for getting different results with the same amount of work.

As for general advice, I have found the black belts I am closest with (Alex, Kevin, Max, & Paul) that aren't Sensei are the ones who open class and ask for requests from time to time. I love to ask them things and they help me so much to understand areas I have trouble with.

Good luck!
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