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Old 10-12-2013, 07:52 AM   #1
Malicat
Dojo: Suenaka-Ha Aikido of Bloomington
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When do you teach your personal style?

My dojo cho is trying to get me the teaching hours I need for shodan, and I am now teaching one class a week at our dojo with him completely out of the picture (although I have caught him listening in a darkened hallway a couple times to listen in. We usually chat a few days on the phone after class to discuss how it went, and if I had any questions for him.

A lot of my questions are winding up in the philosophy of style aspect. I have been fortunate enough to train semi regularly with our soke, as well as several shihans. So while we all do the same style of Aikido, each instructor clearly has things he or she prefer to focus on, and certain styles of doing things. So now I am trying to keep my dojo cho's specific style, (He's law enforcement, so we are very heavy on katame waza and always finishing the technique).

My question is, at what point do I start branching out and focusing on my own preferred style of doing the technique? He and I are very similar, naturally, but there are some things that I have noticed I focus on that he doesn't address often. Also he is good at giving me the answers to my questions that force me to think through the question and answer more thoroughly than just, "Do it this way because that's how I was taught to do it." The simplistic answer would be shodan, but that doesn't seem to encompass it enough, although I don't feel it is proper to introduce waza at my level with anything other than, "This is the way I learned this from Sensei/Shihan whomever." At what point is it appropriate to simply do the technique my way without that sort of explanation as to where I am getting my information and why it may or may not differ from how our dojo cho does it?

--Ashley
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Old 10-12-2013, 08:10 AM   #2
PeterR
 
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Re: When do you teach your personal style?

Pithy answer: When your teacher is not in the hall way.

Shodan is beginning level and really still in the Shu part of Shu Ha Ri (keeping the mould, breaking the mould, making it your own). That said our own personal emphasis and way of doing things starts from the day we step on the mat and conversely no matter how far we advance there should always be a connection to our senior teachers.

My best advise it to teach what interests you but don't try to consciously break from what you have been taught.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 10-12-2013, 02:14 PM   #3
odudog
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Re: When do you teach your personal style?

You teach your own personal style from day one. Reason being is that the students will have a lot of questions and the easiest way to answer those questions is by informing on what you know best which is your own style. However, with that being said, the test will be conducted by your sensei and he wants to see his vision imparted. Therefore, when teaching, you must//must inform the students that what is being taught is either your way or the sensei's way.
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Old 10-12-2013, 09:50 PM   #4
Janet Rosen
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Re: When do you teach your personal style?

When teaching basics, I would teach to the form as it should be demonstrated on a test. However I think it is ok to specifically say "tonight we are going to do a nikkyo variation" or "before starting techniques tonight, we are going to do a partner exercise I found helpful for practicing the principle of irimi" - but in context of the rest of what I would cover in that class (nikkyo var. after standard nikkyo or irimi exercise before iriminage).

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Old 10-13-2013, 03:19 AM   #5
Mark Uttech
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Re: When do you teach your personal style?

Onegaishimasu, I just try to keep studying kihon wase, watching how different sensei do things; the key here is "study".
In gassho,
Mark

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Old 10-13-2013, 06:07 AM   #6
robin_jet_alt
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Re: When do you teach your personal style?

I would teach what you feel comfortable teaching, and what you feel that you have to contribute. Whether that is what other people teach is neither here nor there. There is no point teaching something you don't feel confident about yourself.
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Old 10-13-2013, 12:58 PM   #7
Basia Halliop
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Re: When do you teach your personal style?

I remember when I first started teaching, one piece of advice I got from a sempai was to teach whatever I know best myself. A second piece was to keep it basic (partly because of my juniorness but doubly so because the class I was teaching was a Basics class).

In practice I found that this tends to mean you focus on what feel to you to be basic things, that you yourself have spent the most hours learning and that will likewise be most helpful to your students, but also that different people will naturally have certain things come up more or less often in their class. Which seems to me fine.

For me when I think of personal style, though, I tend to think of the differences we all have that are relatively unconscious, or that just happen, due to differences in body and personality. I wouldn't deliberately try to teach something that actually contradicted my Sensei's teaching - I don't have any particular desire to, but even if I did, it's ultimately his dojo and people have joined it because they want to study his style, not mine or someone else's.

But that doesn't mean everyone's class looks the same, either. There are a number of senior students who teach at my dojo, and all are distinctive. We all have favourite exercises we do more often, different ways of explaining things, different techniques or different variations of the same technique we teach a bit more often or a lot more often, even different warm ups. And we all do the same technique somewhat differently simply because we're all different people.

The differences come through to the students, even without a deliberate effort to 'be unique'.
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Old 10-13-2013, 01:14 PM   #8
philipsmith
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Re: When do you teach your personal style?

To paraphrase Okumura Sensei:

up to Sandan be technically correct; Sandan to Rokkudan introduce your own personality; after Rokkudan do what the hell you like.

So on that reckoning Sandan is when you can branch out. However, Aikido is a reflection of your personality so it's virtually impossible not to introuce some facet of yourself into whatever you do in the dojo.
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Old 10-13-2013, 10:34 PM   #9
Stephen Nichol
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Re: When do you teach your personal style?

Quote:
Philip Smith wrote: View Post
To paraphrase Okumura Sensei:

up to Sandan be technically correct; Sandan to Rokkudan introduce your own personality; after Rokkudan do what the hell you like.

So on that reckoning Sandan is when you can branch out. However, Aikido is a reflection of your personality so it's virtually impossible not to introuce some facet of yourself into whatever you do in the dojo.
This. Plus all the stuff people have said in the other posts. I know right.

Stick to kihon as best as you understand them. Always phrase it that way, not as though you have doubt in yourself, just as a caveat that should your Sensei make corrections it is because understanding/interpretation can have slight variants that need clarification/correction.

Keep focused on what you need to teach, keep it simple and hopefully you are not the type of person that gets 'scattered all of the place' with all the options available (I have seen instructors with the best intentions go off on tangents and waste time and get lost on whatever point they were trying to make and just end up confusing everyone). Just keep it clear and concise to the lesson/progression needed.

Present it as it was shown to you. Let them start practicing and encourage questions during that phase allowing you to clarify again with each person as needed which may involve a different way of explaining the same thing to help that person.

Your personal style will evolve from just you gaining more and more experience with instructing others. There is no 'when' per se, it will just continue to evolve and more than likely come full circle.
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Old 10-15-2013, 01:40 PM   #10
Budd
 
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Re: When do you teach your personal style?

When I realized that other as an occasional guest, I don't fit in well doing other peoples styles of aikido
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Old 10-16-2013, 04:04 PM   #11
Bill Danosky
 
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Re: When do you teach your personal style?

To my observation, usually one just splits off and opens their own "Aiki Budo" dojo and advertises it as "The Founder of Aikido's True Martial Art". There's a special section for them in the Yellow Pages.
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Old 10-16-2013, 06:08 PM   #12
Dan Richards
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Re: When do you teach your personal style?

As some have pointed out, around the shodan level, you don't "have your own personal style." And you're still very much in the "shu" stage of learning and development, as Peter addressed.

For reference, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shuhari

In fact, part of your moving into the "ha" stage has very much to do with you working with the "shu" stage to present, as accurately as possible, the movements and approaches you've been taught by your head instructor and dojos approach.

Start with the movements you feel you understand the best, and start teaching them. All the while, working to emulate your teacher as closely as possible. This, in and of itself, will give you a completely different understanding of what your teacher has taught you. It will get the movements into a deeper level in your bones. And it will reinforce the teachings of your dojo to the students. It will then give you a different level of questions and investigations to go back to your head instructor with, and thereby drawing out even finer and more advanced points from them.

Even after 25 years of training, and even though I do a lot of aiki and IS-type training and teaching, I still - as a syllabus for aikido, up until around 2nd dan level - teach the rote movements of Nishio Aikido as I was taught by Nishio Sensei and his senior students.

Good luck with teaching the classes. It will open up a whole new level in your own learning.

Last edited by Dan Richards : 10-16-2013 at 06:16 PM.

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Old 10-17-2013, 06:29 AM   #13
Malicat
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Re: When do you teach your personal style?

Ok, wow, style was a BAD word choice on my part. Let me clarify. One of the yudansha at my dojo uses atemi on every technique, including yokomen uchi kata atoshi. I prefer to skip the atemi at the beginning of this technique, concentrate on the blend, and then if necessary, move my hand from the shoulder to the carotid artery to drop uke, based on the level of resistance. Both are accurate and well within our style (yep, this is where this word goes) of Aikido. He also uses an atemi to the face when stepping hantai tenkan with a yokomen uchi, but he's a very big guy with a lot of reach. I am quite short, and if I were to use that atemi, I'd have to move back in to strike, and then back out to perform a technique and that feels awkward to me, so I usually go with something more along the lines of a kick to the knee or inside of the thigh instead. Both options are correct, but I have my personal preference, which is still slightly different. So my question, rephrased, is, At what point do I teach my personal preferences instead of teaching the same technique a few different ways?

--Ashley

Quote:
Dan Richards wrote: View Post
As some have pointed out, around the shodan level, you don't "have your own personal style." And you're still very much in the "shu" stage of learning and development, as Peter addressed.

For reference, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shuhari

In fact, part of your moving into the "ha" stage has very much to do with you working with the "shu" stage to present, as accurately as possible, the movements and approaches you've been taught by your head instructor and dojos approach.

Start with the movements you feel you understand the best, and start teaching them. All the while, working to emulate your teacher as closely as possible. This, in and of itself, will give you a completely different understanding of what your teacher has taught you. It will get the movements into a deeper level in your bones. And it will reinforce the teachings of your dojo to the students. It will then give you a different level of questions and investigations to go back to your head instructor with, and thereby drawing out even finer and more advanced points from them.

Even after 25 years of training, and even though I do a lot of aiki and IS-type training and teaching, I still - as a syllabus for aikido, up until around 2nd dan level - teach the rote movements of Nishio Aikido as I was taught by Nishio Sensei and his senior students.

Good luck with teaching the classes. It will open up a whole new level in your own learning.
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Old 10-18-2013, 08:58 AM   #14
Derek
 
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Re: When do you teach your personal style?

IMHO, I've been teaching quite a while and when I started I remember trying to impart my wisdom and the "exciting" things that knew As a result, my choice of techniques when generally disjointed and overly complicated. This made it difficult for my students to follow and frustrating for them because I was teaching them stuff they just weren't ready for! Now I've more years under my belt and despite having even more "cool" stuff to teach, I do try to teach to my audience. If there are more beginners on the mat, more beginning technique. If its all black belts, they get to see a different level of complexity. Luckily, I can still confuse them!

Derek Duval
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Old 03-17-2014, 11:53 AM   #15
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Re: When do you teach your personal style?

As a Shodan and junior instructor at my school, I find that when teaching the basics I have learned from my sensei, that is the best way for me. I am of average height and often find that I do not have to make adjustments on certain techniques, more so when the uke is substancially taller. I suppose that I impart my "personal style" when teaching but, I really do not pay that much attention to that. Now in the case of multiple attack Randori, all bets are off and I go on what I have learned over the years. I myself have an extreme amount more to learn and believe we are how we are taught. We should be a reflection of our teachers in some manner.
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Old 03-17-2014, 01:28 PM   #16
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Re: When do you teach your personal style?

Quote:
Kenneth Hannah wrote: View Post
As a Shodan and junior instructor at my school, I find that when teaching the basics I have learned from my sensei, that is the best way for me. I am of average height and often find that I do not have to make adjustments on certain techniques, more so when the uke is substancially taller. I suppose that I impart my "personal style" when teaching but, I really do not pay that much attention to that. Now in the case of multiple attack Randori, all bets are off and I go on what I have learned over the years. I myself have an extreme amount more to learn and believe we are how we are taught. We should be a reflection of our teachers in some manner.
I usually recommend sticking with what you know. Remember, your "adjustments" at this point could just as easily be attributed to competency as uke... As a junior instructor, you should probably be sticking more closely to your school's curriculum and less your personal style. Unless your personal style is better than the curriculum - then you need to have a talk with your instructor...

As an example, when our students test for shodan, they will do so in front of regional senior instructors who are more interested in seeing the student demonstrate a "style" most similar to their instruction. Any deviations from that and I am on the hook to explain why I deviated from their instruction. That is not an appealing thought. I

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Old 03-20-2014, 01:30 PM   #17
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Re: When do you teach your personal style?

Perhaps I was unclear in what I meant by "adjustments", is it not true that shorter people have to bring taller people to there level regardless of the "basics"? Or maybe misinterpreted I was but, I have only ever stuck to what my sensei has ever taught me. It is like looking in the mirror.
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Old 03-21-2014, 06:59 AM   #18
SeiserL
 
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Re: When do you teach your personal style?

Quote:
Derek Duval wrote: View Post
IMHO, I've been teaching quite a while and when I started I remember trying to impart my wisdom and the "exciting" things that knew As a result, my choice of techniques when generally disjointed and overly complicated. This made it difficult for my students to follow and frustrating for them because I was teaching them stuff they just weren't ready for! Now I've more years under my belt and despite having even more "cool" stuff to teach, I do try to teach to my audience. If there are more beginners on the mat, more beginning technique. If its all black belts, they get to see a different level of complexity. Luckily, I can still confuse them!
Yea ... what he said ... agreed.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 03-21-2014, 07:04 AM   #19
SeiserL
 
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Re: When do you teach your personal style?

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
As a junior instructor, you should probably be sticking more closely to your school's curriculum and less your personal style. Unless your personal style is better than the curriculum - then you need to have a talk with your instructor...
Yea ... again ... what he said ...

First, do you have the dojo-cho's permission?

Next, what's in the best interest of he student under the head instructor and belonging to their organization/style?

Finally/lastly, I share my limited interpretation of what I have been taught by others who know so much more than I ever will.

Lynn Seiser PhD
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We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 03-22-2014, 07:01 PM   #20
JP3
 
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Re: When do you teach your personal style?

My instructor said that everyone starts to "make aikido their own" at some point a year or a few years after reaching shodan, whether they realize it or not.

We openly discuss it, and analyze each other to figure out, for other people's benefit later on, why so-and-so's wrist techniques are particularly wicked, etc. It's a fun exercise.

I find it interesting that the kanji character for kuzushi illustrates a mountain falling on a house.
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Old 03-26-2014, 10:26 AM   #21
tarik
 
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Re: When do you teach your personal style?

If you do have a principle based curriculum, then you should always teach to that curriculum and avoid personal "style" preferences most of the time.

If you don't have a principle based curriculum, you will be teaching your own "style" right from the beginning. Your style will be influenced by your teacher, your training partners, and what you find works for you when you train.

In my experience, many (most?) dojo or groups don't have a principle based curriculum, they have a technique based curriculum.

Best,

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

MASAKATSU AGATSU -- "The true victory of self-mastery."
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Old 04-06-2014, 08:19 PM   #22
kewms
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Re: When do you teach your personal style?

Are we talking about teaching style, or style of aikido?

I think everyone starts to develop a personal teaching style from the first time they lead a class. There are particular teaching metaphors that they will find especially helpful (or not), there are particular techniques that they will be more or less comfortable teaching. There will be a personal balance between silent demonstrations, demonstrations with step-by-step explanations, and helping individuals one-on-one.

Style of aikido is a little trickier. On the one hand, I think a dojo that expects a 5'4" 125 pound woman to have technique that looks exactly like a 6'4" 250 pound man's is probably not a place where I would encourage anyone to train. On the other hand, if both people are teaching at the same dojo I would expect them to both have similar explanations for *why* their technique works, and similar reasoning behind whatever body-type driven adjustments they make. (I suspect this is part of what Tarik meant by "principle-based" instruction.) If the chief instructor argues that aikido is 90% atemi, I would expect junior instructors to be able to show where the atemi targets are in any particular technique. Conversely, if the chief instructor rarely demonstrates atemi, I wouldn't expect junior instructors to emphasize it, either.

It also depends on the relative ranks involved. The more senior the chief instructor is, and the more junior the junior instructor, the more closely I would expect the junior instructor to follow the "company line."

Katherine
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Old 04-06-2014, 10:23 PM   #23
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Re: When do you teach your personal style?

I've been training aikido for 14 years, am a relatively new sandan, was formerly an uchideshi in 2005 (so I definitely have some programming trending toward shutting up and doing, and not doing my own thing), and am just now feeling very comfortable teaching. When I teach a thing, I have an agenda of what parts I want the students, or peers, to get out of it...even people senior to me...and I feel very comfortable doing it. This, I think, bleeds off you and the people you are sharing your training with tend to feel comfortable with learning from you when you are comfortable and confident in what you are doing. You can definitely tell the difference when a person is teaching something they know vice practicing their teaching skills.

So my short answer would be "you'll just know it when it feels right." At least thats how it worked for me. But I have to mention the importance of continuity in teaching, particularly kihon waza, and the importance of having a very solid fundamental background. If you want to be a teacher, especially a good one, you need more training than the average 1.5 hour class, two to three times a week. You really need a period of focused, dedicated, training where you've made personal sacrifices in your life toward your budo. Aikido is an art designed for people to "give their life to it," as are much of Japan's arts (pulled that from a sushi documentary, lol). Of course not everyone can do that completely, and some understanding of aikido is better than not training at all...but I still feel its important to get that depth of detailed knowledge, and the physical learning that goes with it.

Last edited by Adam Huss : 04-06-2014 at 10:27 PM.

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Old 04-08-2014, 07:02 PM   #24
Michael Hackett
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Re: When do you teach your personal style?

Ashley,

If you are talking about the manner in which waza are to be performed, then I think you should do it exactly as your Dojo Cho teaches it while you are a member of his dojo.

If you are talking about the manner in how you teach, then you should rely on your own personality as your process of teaching.

Obviously there will be some issues based on size and I suspect it would be impossible to replicate your Dojo Cho's actions if he is 6'4" and you are 4'4" and you will have to make adjustments. In those cases, explain to your class how you are deviating and why; showing both your Dojo Cho's technique and the one you have adjusted to. Just make it clear which way is the "expected" way and which is a variation you've had to adopt.

In any event, I think you are obligated to teach the Dojo Cho's technique regardless of what rank you are while you are a member of his dojo.

Michael
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Old 04-08-2014, 08:47 PM   #25
tarik
 
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Re: When do you teach your personal style?

Quote:
Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
Style of aikido is a little trickier. On the one hand, I think a dojo that expects a 5'4" 125 pound woman to have technique that looks exactly like a 6'4" 250 pound man's is probably not a place where I would encourage anyone to train.

On the other hand, if both people are teaching at the same dojo I would expect them to both have similar explanations for *why* their technique works, and similar reasoning behind whatever body-type driven adjustments they make. (I suspect this is part of what Tarik meant by "principle-based" instruction.)
Yep.. in part, what I mean by principle based instruction is that the reason that things work remain the same. I have been in situations where things I've been taught or have taught directly contradicted other instructors. I don't mean appeared to contradict (that happens lots early on if not careful simply because of nature of this), but actual, real different and contradictory explanations for how/why something works.

Principle based instruction allows a 4'11 student (I have a woman in my dojo who is that tall) to have technique that works for the exact same reasons as a 6'2 man. It may (should!) look different, but the reasons it works are literally the same. If not, there's something wrong with one or the others (or both) methods.

Principle based learning relies upon testable principles that can be proven or disproved again and again with simple tests. It's easy for all of us to fool ourselves without constant testing of both assumptions and actions.

I believe that there is a huge difference between someone who is simply leading a class and a teacher. In an ideal world, people should start by leading a class and learn how to teach from their teacher. In practice, this ideal world has long been broken and there are many very senior people running dojo who actually know very little about teaching.

Personally, I think this is one strong argument for the mode of silently leading of class by demoing a technique and allowing everyone to work it out themselves. But this is not teaching.

Regards,

Tarik Ghbeish
Jiyūshin-ryū AikiBudō - Iwae Dojo

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Aki-Jitsu The One General 40 04-01-2001 04:41 PM


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