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Old 12-17-2002, 11:21 PM   #1
Location: Western Australia
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 241
Class Structure

After training last week, Sensei called all of his senior students (1st kyu and above)together to talk to them about next year's training priorities and some ideas about how to structure the class in terms of teaching responsibilities.

Sensei is keen to focus his teaching on the Senior students with some of the senior students assisting him in teaching intermediate and beginner students. He floated a few ideas for us to discuss and think about. Here are the ideas so far:

- First, separate classes for Yudansha and 1st Kyu vs Intermediate and Beginners.
- Second, having senior students (on a rotational basis) take Intermediates and Beginners during the classes.
- Third, have senior students train with beginners and intermediates for half the class and then for the other half allow the senior grades to train together with one of the Senior grades helping the beginners and intermediates so sensei can focus on the Senior students.
- Fourth, schedule additional classes for beginners and intermediates only with one of the Senior students taking the class.
- Fifth, encouraging studens to train at other dojos.

Given that we sometimes get close to 35 people on the mat, Sensei is finding it difficult to get to all people in the class to give them the attention that they deserve. Since sensei does this out of love of aikido (he doesnt get paid for it) and with his other commitments, he isnt able to personnaly teach additional classes but he wants to make sure that when his senior student teach, they are teaching properly and correctly. So we have to find a way of using the time we already have to the best effect.

Apologies for the long winded explanation but does anyone else have any ideas or comments about how best to structure a teaching session so that all people get the benefit of Sensei's experience during the class. Perhaps you might wish to talk about what happens at your dojos. Ultimately I would like to suggest ways that all grades have the experience and instruction from sensei in some form or another.

Thank you for reading this long dissertation and all the best for training. Merry Christmas to all

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Old 12-18-2002, 02:58 AM   #2
Thalib's Avatar
Dojo: 合気研究会
Location: Jakarta Selatan
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 504
So far, the dojos that I train in, don't have the luxury of time. All the training places that I've been in are actually not permanent dojos. We time share with other activities (e.g.: university auditorium). Therefore, beginner or not, the classes are mixed. We also don't have that many yudanshas in Indonesia either.

Unless there is somebody that is completely new, that person will get special attention. We don't have a specific registration period, so new students could enroll at any time. Sensei will usually asks a senior, usually 3rd kyu and above, to be the training partner for that person. If there is quite a number of them, the senior will be leading a "discussion group" if I could call it that.

When showing a technique, Sensei will usually show it at three levels, let's call it shoden, chuden, and okuden.
  1. For beginners, the shoden technique is very basic and taught in a step-by-step movement, quite technical. The beginners are still very new and sensei wouldn't want to confuse them.
  2. For the rest, the chuden level is shown. It is more flowing and more aiki. Form is still important, but movement must not be broken. Flow is a must.
  3. Okuden, aiki waza, is usually shown for reference. It is formless and still retains the main principle. Students are welcomed to try it out.

In other words, all the students, wether beginner, intermediate, or yudansha will be doing the same technique, except at different levels of understanding.

Usually for students first 8 lessons (first 4 weeks), they are separated from the group for the first hour, with a senior leading them. During the first hour, they are usually taught ukemi, tenkan-kaiten, basic attacks, basic joint locks, etc. After that, they have to learn it as they go along.

I've written too long already. I'm just writing the same thing over and over again. Must be getting boring. I'll stop now.

Thank you and...


in advance, just in case I'm not posting for the next week or two...

When I have to die by the sword, I will do so with honor.
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Old 12-18-2002, 07:45 AM   #3
Dojo: Great Wave Aikido
Location: Alberta, Canada
Join Date: Jun 2002
Posts: 543
Hello, Mayland! Long time, no talk.

I wish our dojo had your problem; lots of students to deal with. Unfortunately, we're at the other end of the member spectrum. However, if I may, I'd like to mention a few tips from my own teaching experience, if you don't mind.

1st - using senior students to teach junior ones - that's ideal, but it has to be managed right. I'd recommend giving the job of teaching newcomers (as opposed to 'beginners'; I'll arbitrarily set the separation at about 10 classes - just long enough to be able to take basic ukemi without killing themselves) to 2nd-kyus, and beginners to 3rd kyus. Reason: The first few lessons are critical in any skill; you need someone with coaching experience to bring them into the fold correctly. Once they've got their feet, as it were, you can give the job to the less experienced 3rd kyus - gives them excellent teaching experience and they should be easily good enough to teach begginner skills.

2nd - rotating instructors - OK for intermediate students, but bad for beginners and newcomers. Reason: Different people have different training styles and skills; too much difference will confuse and distract very low-level students, limiting their learning. I know, this sounds like a minor point but it isn't - we all have experienced this at one time or another, I'm sure. So; while rotation is good for intermediates, try to keep newcomers with one or two good instructors.

3rd - communication. Again, most important for instructors working with the newer students. If a different instructor is teaching them, make sure he or she knows a)what they covered last class, b)how far the students had proceeded during the class (i.e. they were learning ukemi, got as far as a forward roll from the knees, so its a good idea not to work on standing back rolls yet) and c)what you intend to accomplish in this class.

4th - whenever possible, with newcomers, its a good idea for instructors to work in pairs - one teaching and observing the students, one observing and correcting the students. Note the overlap. I'm sure experienced Senseis will agree - you can't watch newcomers hard enough. (lol!)

Anyway, these are general principles; I don't know enough about Aikido to consider it specifically, but these points should help organize things a bit.


Answers are only easy when they're incomplete.
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Old 12-18-2002, 11:28 AM   #4
Dojo: Baltimore Aikido
Location: Baltimore
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 586
I've always been a big fan of the traditional aikido no-structure structure. The only variation from that that I've seen and liked is the idea of a 'beginners class' that meets for a number of weeks (8 or 10) and is taught by someone of reasonably high rank and attended by more experienced students who are eager to assist and re-work the basics. I think that it's very important that high ranking students make a point of working with beginners as much as possible, and that a pair of newcomers should almost always be broken up by a pair where both members have achieved kyu rank. Beginners should be encouraged to seek out high ranking members of the dojo and train with them.

The reason I don't like rigidly structuring the class around rank is that I like the idea that we are all 'beginners' in some sense and that we all have to learn from working with each other. It trains in, I think, a healthy respect for and appreciation of beginners that helps them feel really welcomed and taught.

Yours in Aiki
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