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Old 07-12-2007, 01:08 AM   #1
gi_grrl
Dojo: Institute of Aikido Australia
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Staying motivated

Hi all,

My Sensei usually only teaches one of three classes a week. The remaining classes are taught by our three highest ranking students. Usually, I would teach one class a week and have been doing so for the last two years (for three years before that I taught more irregularly). Lately, I've been teaching nearly one in every two classes, sometimes one in three. I enjoy teaching, but I find it hard staying motivated when I'm not getting to train. And while training is challenging, I find that teaching is more so - the students are depending on me, I need to plan the classes, and stay fully focussed while I'm there. It can be quite draining after already putting in a full day's work. Some days, I really struggle to get to the dojo, knowing that I'll most likely have to teach.

Does anyone have any strategies to streamline the teaching process and stay motivated? What is it that keeps you teaching??

Cheers, gi_grrl.
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Old 07-12-2007, 02:17 AM   #2
senshincenter
 
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Re: Staying motivated

One thing I do in regards to training and teaching is that I look to train just like everyone else. I demonstrate the technique, then get a partner and start training just as any other person in class would. In short, teaching does not have to mean "not training" if you do not let it or want it to. I think that is the first place to start - a change of perspective.

After that, you can look to things that make this more doable where you are. Some of the things we do in our dojo are: we train in only one to three techniques per class; we carry a single theme/principle for a week or more; we rotate two to four times per class on the same technique; we have advanced training hours; we offer training several times a day, daily. All of these things work to limit the downside of not being 100% instructor 100% of the time (i.e. looking over everyone's shoulder all of the time) - which isn't necessarily all good either (my opinion).

Another change of perspective that you can apply, if you are not already doing so, is to look to work on techniques you have questions about and/or problems with - vs. picking techniques you feel comfortable with and/or that are fun to do, etc.

Additionally, if the learning curve is very low, due to too many beginners on the mat, you can always look to delve deeper into any given basic - finding the ocean of information within the "simplest" of fundamentals. These last two suggestions might help with the sense that teaching means not learning - which is not true for more reasons than just "you learn a lot when you have to teach something."

fwiw,
dmv

David M. Valadez
Visit our web site for articles and videos. Senshin Center - A Place for Traditional Martial Arts in Santa Barbara.
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Old 07-12-2007, 05:00 AM   #3
Dazzler
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Re: Staying motivated

Quote:
Fiona Evans wrote: View Post
Hi all,

My Sensei usually only teaches one of three classes a week. The remaining classes are taught by our three highest ranking students. Usually, I would teach one class a week and have been doing so for the last two years (for three years before that I taught more irregularly). Lately, I've been teaching nearly one in every two classes, sometimes one in three. I enjoy teaching, but I find it hard staying motivated when I'm not getting to train. And while training is challenging, I find that teaching is more so - the students are depending on me, I need to plan the classes, and stay fully focussed while I'm there. It can be quite draining after already putting in a full day's work. Some days, I really struggle to get to the dojo, knowing that I'll most likely have to teach.

Does anyone have any strategies to streamline the teaching process and stay motivated? What is it that keeps you teaching??

Cheers, gi_grrl.
Hi Fiona

Quite a few things I can relate to there, although without knowing your set up its maybe not so easy to offer advice thats directly relevant.

My own Sensei currently teaches just 1 regular class and I am responsible for 2 so some common ground there.

Point 1 is keep training. You are doing this anyway David above joins in the class - I prefer not to do this as I prefer to follow up the 1 to many demonstration with 1 to 1 teaching as the class practices.

So I handle this by either rotating instruction with a friend who is same grade as me or allowing other instructors who come to my more senior class to take a portion of it or even the whole class sometimes. We all try to work together while each has their own perspective.

Point 2 - Do you have a syllabus? I tend to rely more on the syllabus when I've had one of those draining days and stretch the class and my teaching more when I've had a better opportunity to prepare.

Point 3. - We have fairly regular gradings for lower grades. This helps in that when a grading is coming up they are keen to do 'just syllabus' and relieve the pressure on you to be 'inventive'.

Post grading the pressure to be exactly right on every detail is lifted so at these stages I feel enabled to try things that are interesting
but perhaps not so tucked inside my comfort zone.

Point 4. Some days you'll most likely have to teach? Agree a schedule in advance. I find it frustrating to work hard to prepare a class that turns out to be not needed. It can't be avoided sometimes eg. you prepare a class for seniors and juniors turn up ..but you should at least know beforehand if you have to teach or not.

Point 5 - dont be too hard on yourself. I've delivered classes with loads of special bits in...and sometimes the atmosphere just hasn't clicked. Other times I've taught absolute basics...and been taught basics ...and its gone down a storm.

What keeps me teaching?

I enjoy it, I enjoy what it does for me in terms of confidence, technically stretching me, as the students progress and grow I'm forced to do the same to continue to deliver something interesting.

I enjoy seeing what it does for the students, seeing characters emerge from timid beginners, seeing aggressive or strong students develop a sensitivity to other students.

I love the group dynamic of our dojo and am really proud of its achievements and growth.

Hope this helps.

Regards

D
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Old 07-12-2007, 06:51 AM   #4
SeiserL
 
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Re: Staying motivated

IMHO, (add salt because I don't teach) the best way to stay motivated is to not take yourself too seriously, enjoy the experience (have fun) in the moment, see where the experience fits into a larger goal, and always keep your own training up (as a part of the class you teach or otherwise).

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 07-12-2007, 10:04 AM   #5
odudog
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Re: Staying motivated

Teaching is also part of training. I'm sure you have already been surprised by the amount of detail that you have to explain or the types of questions that are asked of you about the techniques. So even if you don't actually practice the techniques that day physically, you did practice them mentally which is half the battle. Also keep it fun, like Mr. Seiser said. I make up mottos or phrases that help my fellow students learn the Japanese words, techniques, concepts, etc.. but most of them are just for me. Just recently I was working with one of my instructors and he kept hearing me mumble "stratch my ass". I had no idea that I was doing this and he asked me why. When I explained it to him he had huge laugh.
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Old 07-13-2007, 12:23 PM   #6
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Staying motivated

Quote:
Fiona Evans wrote: View Post
And while training is challenging, I find that teaching is more so - the students are depending on me, I need to plan the classes, and stay fully focussed while I'm there. It can be quite draining after already putting in a full day's work. Some days, I really struggle to get to the dojo, knowing that I'll most likely have to teach.
Interestingly, I think the issue is not "teaching" per se but the way you have contrasted "teaching" and "training". For instance, "the students are depending on me". Well, when you are training, every partner you have is depending on you. I know that often folks don't think of it that way, but it is true.

"...the need to stay fully focused while I'm there." It shouldn't matter one iota whether you are teaching or just training. If your training is conducted properly, you should be fully focused every second you are training.

Many folks treat their training as recreational. This contrasts with other situations in which what they do is more "serious". For instance taking ukemi from the teacher, taking a rank test, doing a public demo or teaching classes to others.

There really shouldn't be a disconnect between what you do on the mat in class and what happens in any other aspect of your training. If folks trained in every class the way they treat what they do on a Dan test, they would progress at a far greater pace.

If you feel that having to be "fully focused" while your teaching makes you more tired than regular training, you aren't focusing properly in your training. Training is about being fully focused.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 07-13-2007, 12:41 PM   #7
heathererandolph
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Re: Staying motivated

To give yourself something to look forward to, you could try adding some things to challenge yourself. For example, do a little demo at the start or finish of class, showcasing what you will or did teach be the class and related techniques. That will challenge you to go from one technique to the other, quickly and with precision, it will improve your Aikido and be entertaining for the students.

For example, if you are teaching techniques from Yokomen, then show a bunch of techniques from Yokomen attack.

You could enjoy some energetic practice with your students especially if there is an uneven number. You could call more line or group techniques and participate with the students.
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Old 07-13-2007, 05:17 PM   #8
Mark Uttech
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Re: Staying motivated

I think it is pretty simple reality that teaching is not for everyone. Indeed, if it's a problem, or you find it tiring, it is ok to refuse to be a teacher and just be a student. The main teacher at any dojo should not hold it against you. After all, the main teacher at any dojo has the real responsibility, and has to carry the ball. If you think it is important that you be a teacher, but teaching bothers you, that is just your ego. If you think the students are dependent on you, again, that is your ego. Good luck.

In gassho,

Mark

- Right combination works wonders -
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Old 07-14-2007, 05:09 AM   #9
gi_grrl
Dojo: Institute of Aikido Australia
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Re: Staying motivated

Thanks to all of you for your responses. So many things to try, but I think the comment I need to take most on board is David's advice to "change my perspective", ie. stop thinking of teaching as an onerous task but more as a fun way of developing my own aikido as well as that of my students.

Daren - I like all of your points, but particularly 1 and 5. They have oft been mantra of mine with respect to training, so of course they should apply to teaching too. Lynn says almost the same thing, but mentions long-term goals. I find myself wondering what is my long-term goal in aikido? I'm not really sure - I do it because I love it. I loved it from the day I first walked onto the mats. Is there more than that? Will I learn to love teaching? Does this mean that the honeymoon is over and I need to develop a deeper relationship with aikido??

George, I do think of my training as recreational. I do it for fun. I don't always focus fully after working all day... but I get there and I do my best, I leave with a smile on my face, and sometimes I think "wow, look how far I've come". I actually think that learning to not focus fully has been part of my aikido path - to relax and just move, to not look too directly but to know what is around me, to respond without thinking about I should do... Hmmm, thinking about aikido is pretty good motivation, actually .
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Old 07-24-2007, 08:51 AM   #10
Erik Calderon
 
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Re: Staying motivated

Going to seminars as often as possible is one great way to stay motiviated.

There are many wonderful high ranking shihans giving seminars all year round in different cities.

http://www.shinkikan.com

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Old 07-24-2007, 11:29 AM   #11
DonMagee
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Re: Staying motivated

I don't teach martial arts, however I am a teacher. I teach the unix/linux classes at my college. I find the pure love of what I teach to keep me going. In between sessions I really miss teaching. I think that if I didn't love teaching, I simply would stop teaching and not bother with it.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 07-24-2007, 11:40 AM   #12
Budd
 
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Re: Staying motivated

I think, as others have alluded, one of the secrets to being a really good teacher is to never stop being a student.
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Old 08-04-2007, 06:10 AM   #13
Cady Goldfield
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Re: Staying motivated

Budd wins a cee-gar!
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Old 08-05-2007, 10:59 PM   #14
Rocky Izumi
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Re: Staying motivated

I look at teaching as a chance to experiment and do research. In that way, it becomes a fundamental part of my training. All it requires is a bunch of students who won't give you any slack and will slap you around when you screw up your technique. Ask them to give you more resistance and to hit you if they have a chance. A punch in the nose is a good motivator. But start slow and easy. Too many punches in the nose right away can be de-motivating.

Rock
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Old 08-13-2007, 10:01 PM   #15
Matthew White
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Re: Staying motivated

Quote:
Mark Uttech wrote: View Post
I think it is pretty simple reality that teaching is not for everyone. Indeed, if it's a problem, or you find it tiring, it is ok to refuse to be a teacher and just be a student. The main teacher at any dojo should not hold it against you. After all, the main teacher at any dojo has the real responsibility, and has to carry the ball. If you think it is important that you be a teacher, but teaching bothers you, that is just your ego. If you think the students are dependent on you, again, that is your ego. Good luck.

In gassho,

Mark
I'm gonna have to disagree with Mark. It is your responsibility to teach. There is a (perhaps unspoken) agreement when you join a dojo, your seniors will teach you. You will learn from them. When you become senior, you pass that knowledge along to your juniors. As you progress (gain a new rank) you gain responsibilities.

Martial arts should not be a "good 'ol boys" club where the people at the top get all the perks and the people at the bottom have to do all the work; leave that to the mafia and corporate america... Everytime you rank-up, you are saying "I agree to take on the responsibility of helping my juniors, peers, and seniors. The juniors are helped by offering instruction, the peers by offering productive challenges ("dilemma rich atmosphere" - Aaron Clark-Sensei), and the instructors by doing the previous two while simultaneously improving in your own practice."

At some point in our society we created this ideological demarkation line: you are a student [u]or[u] you are a teacher. That's the same as saying, once you are a teacher, you know everything and stop learning. That just makes no sense. A teacher is a student who doesn't have their teacher conveniently handy, so they must become their own teacher for 95%+ of the time. My current teacher is 5th Dan. His two teachers are in different time zones and he sees them just a few days out of the year. He has to progress by monitoring his own practice and use his students as the catalyst for his learning.

My previous teacher was 2nd Dan. If he was going to stop learning just because he was now the "teacher" I would have great pity for him. Now that I'm 2nd Dan I realize how little knowledge that really entails. Yet, I have the responsibility, when I am the senior person on the mat, to instruct the class. It's not something I'm comfortable with, but the dojo should not be a comfortable place. It should be a place that puts you out of your comfort zone and into a place where you may be challenged to better yourself. At a certain point, becoming technically efficient at physical conflict takes a back-seat to learning how we absorb those abilities, how we pass them on to others, and why we even bother. It's at that point that teachers learn and students are taught.

To get back on the subject of teaching or not teaching, IMHO, it's poor payment to the people who taught you to say "I will take, but I will not give".

Okay, I've stood on the pedestal long enough. My legs are tired now.
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Old 08-14-2007, 01:33 AM   #16
donplummer
 
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Re: Staying motivated

find ways to add training to your teaching? yes?

"of all the things I've lost, I ,miss my mind the most..."-mushin-
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Old 08-14-2007, 09:41 AM   #17
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: Staying motivated

Teaching and training are not separate. An old saying goes.. "Half of learning is teaching."

Some people think teaching is telling people about principle and technique and giving them instructions in how to train then watching and critiquing. That is a small part of teaching. The largest part of teaching is leading/teaching by example, close example, touching everyone as much as possible so they can feel the lesson. There are instructors and there are teachers... different levels of experience and subject matter also. Both should do their best to get hands on connection with everyone, each time being appropriate to the level of skill of the junior.

It is a hard lesson for new instructors to learn how to continue training while leading and instructing others. It can not be done from behind a podium with slideshows and visual aids on a screen. Transmission from one that HAS IT to one who WANTS IT through hands on connection as much as possible.

If this is happening, I can't understand how anyone that really loves budo can lose motivation to continue and want more...

Gambatte!

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org
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Old 08-14-2007, 10:00 AM   #18
Rocky Izumi
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Re: Staying motivated

Keep in mind one saying to stay motivated in teaching:

"Do as I do, not as I say."

Rock
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Old 08-14-2007, 10:07 AM   #19
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: Staying motivated

Heh Rocky, How're you doing? Is that an old location listed for you or are you back in Regina for awhile? It's good to see you posting again.

Best Regards,

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org
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Old 08-14-2007, 02:15 PM   #20
Rocky Izumi
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Re: Staying motivated

In Regina, SK, Canada. Working on my DVD series. Got first one made and am distributing. Reviews on Aikiweb. Second one should be out in January, maybe even third one. Second on Tai Sabaki and third one on 90 degree principle.

Rock
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Old 08-14-2007, 02:29 PM   #21
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: Staying motivated

Sounds great! I'll take a look for sure. Do you miss that island life?

I have fond memories of Regina and hangin out with my RCMP buddies. That was a long time ago though in the early seventies.

Aaron is living near Monroe, WA now working at UW and training with Phil Relnick. I'm moving up there as soon as I can get things together and we're gonna build a dojo on Aaron's property. Maybe you can swing down and visit when we get the dojo done.

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org
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Old 08-15-2007, 12:11 AM   #22
Rocky Izumi
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Re: Staying motivated

It is already getting cold here at night. Fall is already upon us and I am not ready for the cold yet. I still haven't warmed up from Spring. The only good thing is that I have the clothes to suit the weather.

My son is now in Vancouver, BC. He has given up on Kendo and is now studying Wu Shu with the idea of working in the stunt field. He doesn't think that he will ever be able to make more than Sandan or Yondan in Kendo so he is working on something that is more suited to his body type. I think he has the talent and I have the connections so it might work out for him in stunt work. We will see. I will give you a call when I am out to see my son, Koichiro and we can have a bit of workout with your son.

Trying to keep this conversation in the staying motivated area. I guess the lesson from my son is that sometimes, if you find that you are not as motivated as you probably should be, you need to switch styles or even just Ryu or just your Shihan. It isn't always your fault if you lose motivation. Sometimes it might be your inner self telling you that you need to do something else. It might just mean that you need a new teacher.

Rock
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Old 09-05-2007, 01:49 AM   #23
Erik Calderon
 
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Re: Staying motivated

In Albuquerqui I visited a dojo, Albuquerqui Aikikai. Had a great time training there and it really got me even more excited about coming back to Houston and teaching.

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Old 09-05-2007, 05:53 AM   #24
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Staying motivated

Quote:
Hiroaki Izumi wrote: View Post
In Regina, SK, Canada. Working on my DVD series. Got first one made and am distributing. Reviews on Aikiweb. Second one should be out in January, maybe even third one. Second on Tai Sabaki and third one on 90 degree principle.

Rock
Hello Rocky,

Hisashiburi desu!!

You are making a DVD series?? On aikido?? Wow!! Can I review them? Severely?

I would not have the gall to make a DVD series on aikido. There is so much that I do not know. Not that I am attacking you for it, however. Yamaguchi Seigo Sensei once made a video and forever complained about it afterwards. I can see why. But I have seen the instructional series made by the present Doshu, and other videos / DVDs made by other shihans like Yamada Yoshimitsu and M Saotome. The present Doshu's videos are almost exactly like his demonstrations. I saw the last one (at Iwama in April on Youtube) and it was typical Moriteru Doshu. Very professional. Are you making similar videos?

I share your views on teaching.

As for motivation, I went to my doctor earlier today and received a heavy dose of acupuncture, moxibustion and massage. He said, "You are very good for your age, but this is because you regularly train in aikido and do ukemi etc. But you are getting old and becoming stiff. You should remember that you have to train harder, to compensate, but in your own way. But you should never stop training. If you do, you will lose the zest for living."

Very best wishes and give my yoroshiku to Kawahara Shihan.

Peter Goldsbury

P A Goldsbury
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Old 09-05-2007, 08:57 AM   #25
raul rodrigo
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Re: Staying motivated

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Hello Rocky,
Yamaguchi Seigo Sensei once made a video and forever complained about it afterwards. I can see why
I've seen the video you're referring to. If you don't mind my asking, what exactly were Yamaguchi's complaints about the video?

best,

R
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