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Old 07-20-2002, 08:48 AM   #1
Location: Somerville, MA
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 58
When is a good time for a Beginner to practice

When is a good time for a Beginner to practice outside of the Beg. Class?

For three months, I will take the half hour Befinner's Class.
Last time I took Aikido, I took three monts of Beginners Class. Then I took a Basics class and felt very overwhelmed. I did not know any of the stretching techniques and felt really embarrassed with my partner. And I could tell that last thing he wanted was a greener than peas n00b.

I understand that the Beginners Class is for the ultimate basics and foundation. Front rolls, back rolls, basic stretching, elementary grab and throw, learning to fall. The last most important!

But all these things are important but then it was an entirely new world in the Basis Class where I felt that I was unprepared to it because we didn't learn how to stretch with a partner, etc. Things that looked elementary in the Basics Class were not broached in the Beginners Class.

SO: when is a good time to go to the dojo outside of class time just to work on things as front rolls, etc. Are we allowed/encouraged to go to the dojo outside of class time to train or is that a rule different dojo to dojo.
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Old 07-20-2002, 08:54 AM   #2
Join Date: Apr 2002
Posts: 12
The rule on extra mat time is different from dojo to dojo, but its generally allowed in some form or another.

Don't worry about the awkward things in the basic class. One of the best lessons that any martial art can teach you is to knuckle down, swallow your pride and throw yourself into learning something new.

I've been training under a teacher who learned Tenshinkai and have decided to expand my horizons at a nearby Fugakukai dojo. I feel like an idiot there. I'm the most senior student at the other dojo, but I can do about nothing correctly at the new one.

Don't worry about being a n00b. With hard work and dedication, you'll become l337.

Eric Kroier
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Old 07-20-2002, 09:00 AM   #3
Brad McMillan
Dojo: New England Aikikai
Location: Massachusetts
Join Date: Apr 2002
Posts: 7
I spent about six weeks in the beginner class before I moved to the basics class. And, like you, I didn't know what I was doing and was quite embarassed. Still am, occasionally, when Sensei shows a technique I haven't seen before. It is hard not to worry about it, but we have all been there. The whole point of the Basics class is so that you can learn the basics, after all.

As for extra practice time, I usually show up before class or stay after class and ask a senior if I have a question. Often, even if I am working with someone at my skill level, a senior will come over and make helpful suggestions, which is great. Again, I know it's hard, but if you ask you will find people more than willing to help.
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Old 07-20-2002, 08:03 PM   #4
Deb Fisher
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 145
In our dojo there is no beginners class - you have no other option as a beginner than to start fumbling your way through ikkyo and shihonage in the basics class. And at first most folks really suck at it and they all get better if they keep coming to class... even I got better eventually, even though I felt like a total spazz for a long time.

All the people you're training with had a first day, a first week... hell, a first year. Again, at my dojo I think most people look at a big handful of beginners to train with as a blessing. It's great that the dojo is growing and attracting new folks, it's great to see people fall in love with aikido, and working with a total beginner is a unique training challenge that doesn't come along every day.

I don't know from your dojo, but I think that dealing with the challenges of learning new things is as fantastic as it is hard. The partner you were working with may not have been as put out as you think, and if he was then he wasn't being very giving and didn't have the big picture in mind so don't worry about him.

Everybody's new sometime, cut yourself some slack and have fun!


Deb Fisher
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Old 07-21-2002, 07:33 AM   #5
Location: sunderland
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 52
hi rev sully

im relativlly new as well and ive found that if u just grit ur teeth and practice really hard in the class then ull carck it eventually my sensai always tells if ur stuck go to a corner with a freind and hell give us further instruction while the other class practice with the other teacher.

why dont u see if ur sensai will let u do htis to


with out the heart there can be no understanding between body and mind and if u have never linked ur self to true emptiness you will never comprehend the full dimension of aikido.
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Old 07-22-2002, 10:02 AM   #6
Location: Somerville, MA
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 58
I think my major concern was the elementary things that I will learn as time goes on but the general uneasiness that's associated with anything new. The main elementary thing was stretching with a partner.

My partner asked me "first time"? And I said "yes". He tried to help but also I could tell I was taking away from his dojo time by being green. I wished that stretching was covered in the Beginner's class. I was more embarrassed about that than leaping over Sensei into a forward roll. I fell so badly but I could understand that.

I am interested in the idea of the dojo without the Beginner's Class. Musta been very "sink or swim". I am very grateful for at least the half hour Beginner's Class in light of that!

Ideally, is it more appropriate to partner with a fellow beginner at a Basics Class or should we ask the Sempei for training?

"He who knows best knows how little he knows." -Thomas Jefferson
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Old 07-22-2002, 10:23 AM   #7
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 117
We have a beginners' class that sounds more like what you're describing as a 'basics' class - people before their first (6th kyu) test train there, but there's always plenty of seniors, so the pace isn't necessarily very slow. New people just go at their own pace - but they're expected to do front rolls as well as try to fumble through their kotegaishis and ikkyos, nikkyos & sankyos and iriminages from first time on.

I'm in the beginners' class after a whole year (health troubles), but it's never like they're teaching us such basics that 'i've already grown out of'. People just practice and, slowly, get better until they decide to test, which can take quite a while
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Old 07-22-2002, 10:29 PM   #8
Bronson's Avatar
Dojo: Seiwa Dojo and Southside Dojo
Location: Battle Creek & Kalamazoo, MI
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,677
I am interested in the idea of the dojo without the Beginner's Class.
That's what we've got. No beginners class, no advanced class, no black-belt class, just regular old class. Everyone is taught the same thing at the same time. More advanced students are expected to do it better and also to help out the new students. During our stretches and warm up exercises sensei usually pairs one of the senior students with a new person to help guide them through what we're doing. I can't think of a single person in our dojo who thinks that working with new people somehow takes away from our experince. It is part of the experience.
Ideally, is it more appropriate to partner with a fellow beginner at a Basics Class or should we ask the Sempei for training?
IMO, a new person should work almost exclusively with experienced students. They are there to help guide them and to teach them the particulars of the dojo being trained in. Not to mention the two most dangerous people on the mat are two newbies working together (followed closely by two nikyu )


"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 07-23-2002, 06:47 AM   #9
Location: Somerville, MA
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 58
Bronson wrote:

"Not to mention the two most dangerous people on the mat are two newbies working together."


That's great (and probably so true).

"He who knows best knows how little he knows." -Thomas Jefferson
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Old 07-23-2002, 08:59 AM   #10
Bruce Baker
Dojo: LBI Aikikai/LBI ,NJ
Location: Barnegaat, NJ
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 893
Obsessing verses practice

I must say that the least important part of learning the ropes is looking good, or even being proficient, such as the new green guy in class.

Step back and observe how the each student, as well as the teacher becomes absorbed into correcting and perfecting their own sloppyness by the smile or less emotional scowl on their faces, happy faces mean that they are going in the right direction for what they expect practice to be. You would be surprised how many practitioners are self criticizing of their own practice, even teachers with many years of practice.

No. It is not good to dwell upon how inept you are compared to others, just do the best you can. Your practice will improve ... with practice. You can't improve if you don't practice, and obsessing won't help your practice.

Realize all people who come to practice are there to improve.

That would be you, also.
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Old 07-25-2002, 04:11 PM   #11
Deb Fisher
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 145
sink or swim

Yes! But the only people who seem to sink are the ones who get too frustrated. Everyone else learns as much about the frustration as they do about ikkyo.

Train as much as you want and can, with experienced people. Most important, relax and realize that **you are doing them a favor**, because teaching is one of the best ways to learn anything, including aikido. You mentioned that you were "taking training time away" from your partner because you were ignorant of something, and that's just not true. A dojo isn't like going to the gym. It's a social environment and you sign up for a range of experiences, including showing people how to stretch or roll or find a pressure point or tie their belts...

You also learn that you can't feel so bad about your ignorance that you're unable to learn. This is a huge cultural stumbling block, and well worth removing. (Speaking from experience here... this was and is a very hard lesson for me).

Train well - and good luck!

Deb Fisher
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Old 08-07-2002, 10:28 PM   #12
Kevin Wilbanks
Location: Seattle/Southern Wisconsin
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 788
When I started Aikido, I made a deliberate point to give myself permission to be unashamedly ignorant. The idea of feeling embarassed about being unskilled at something I had never done before just didn't make sense to me, so I felt completely free of the kind of self-effacing worries described here. It was great!

As I related elsewhere, I already had a hakama, so I wore it. I occasionally took a rough fall or a punch that someone assumed I should see, but so what? I always felt a little out of my depth, like I didn't quite know what was going on, but I just dealt with it and didn't let it slow me down. I learned a lot, and I learned fast, and in retrospect, it was probably the most fun period of my entire martial arts experience.

Take all that worry and tension and doubt and just let go of it. It's boring and nobody cares about it but you. Be present and alive and do your best - it will leave a much more positive impression on people than whatever slightly improved skills you imagine you should have would.

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Old 08-07-2002, 11:32 PM   #13
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 915
I've been in several dojos across the spectrum, from having a beginners class that focused mostly on ukemi and footwork, to one with a beginners class mostly in name only, to one without a beginners class at all.

In all of them, however, 99.9% are happy to work with beginners, no matter what is being taught. It helps the senior learn by showing, it is a nice break after an aerobic workout with a 20-something ikkyu, it is happily done in remembrance of help given to the giver years ago. the other 0.1% should be smart enough by now to avoid beginners if they really don't want to train with them, so if you grab a senior, s/he wants to train with you.

My first dojo had an open practice once a week, an hour long, when the dojo was open for use without formal instruction. I would go to every open practice to work on ukemi and shikko; once I wasn't a total klutz in ukemi, I would often get a chance to uke for some of the other students who were practicing for their tests (and got a sneak peak that way at some of the more advanced techniques)

I also showed up as early before class as my schedule allowed each day, to work on falls or maybe get tossed around a little. I also found it a good time to ask a senior (one had to be there to open the door) any questions I had on stretching. After class was another option, but not for long as usually folks wanted to lock up and get going.

My first dojo also stressed the importance of rushing to the demo uke for a partner, and it was quite a feeding frenzy to get him; yet one night, as a beginner, I was successful nearly every technique. Now, I might be fast, but I'm not stupid, and I know I succeeded because he chose me out of the melee (having since then sat in that spot, I know now how he managed it)...similarly, other seniors would magically appear next to me at partner time. I will always be grateful to them, and hold those memories fondly, and am happy when I have a chance to do the same for others now in the place where I was...and I think most--from those of us slightly less green to the very old hands---feel the same.
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Old 08-08-2002, 09:53 AM   #14
SeiserL's Avatar
Location: Florida Gulf coast
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 3,902
We, Tenshinkai Aikido under Sensei Phong, don't have "beginner classes" per say. We all train on the same mat at the same time. We do tend to train (pair off) by skill level so that we can take and give the waza at different levels. Most of us are glad to work with the "beginners" because we learn so much. IMHO, when you can take the fall and when you ar open to learn, others will be glad to welcome you in the training.

Until again,


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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