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Old 10-28-2008, 11:26 AM   #1
dave9nine
Dojo: Aikido Institute - Oakland
Location: Oakland
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formal "class" as a supplement to keiko?

Hi.
I've been thinking about this for a while, but may not have it all articulated well yet, so bear with me.
There's a few ways to approach this topic, but ill go with this:
ive trained in several places, and one phenomenon that always comes back around is that of the amount of talking that goes on during training; how much should go on? how much is too much? should we be able to train without ANY talking?
I think this goes for the instructor leading the class and demonstrating technique, AND for the class itself during training.
As we probably all have seen, different instructors/personalities engage in varying degrees of 'explanation.' Some are quite good at demonstrating technique with minimal speech, while others need to express their thoughts verbally a lot more--and may be quite eloquent while doing so.

While this topic of the appropriate level of talk on the mat is a discussion in itself, my purpose here is to ask a side question:
Given the sophistication of the Aikido system; the philosophy, the spiritual implications, the historical context of the art, the stories of O-Sensei, the cultural context of the rituals and etiquette, the geometry of the techniques, etc., (i think all of these are what create the apparent need for people to do a lot of explaining on the mat), if your dojo offered a supplementary university-style study class before or after keiko/training, would you attend?

My idea is a classroom-type space with multi-media capablities for showing video; a drawing board for diagraming the geometry of technique, a ciriculum for teaching and learning the japanese terms, and the different facets of the art, in an intellectual way.

Do you think that having such a class would decrease the need to talk during class?

Do any of you have a similar thing already?
If so, I would love to hear about your program and your own take on it.

-dave
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Old 10-28-2008, 11:32 AM   #2
grondahl
Dojo: Stockholms Aikidoklubb
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Re: formal "class" as a supplement to keiko?

I actually think that having such a class could increase the talking during class. A little bit like trying to put out a fire with oxygen...
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Old 10-28-2008, 03:08 PM   #3
ramenboy
Dojo: midwest aikido center
Location: chicago
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Re: formal "class" as a supplement to keiko?

Quote:
Peter Gröndahl wrote: View Post
I actually think that having such a class could increase the talking during class. A little bit like trying to put out a fire with oxygen...
or maybe putting out a fire with gasoline???

this is a traditional physical martial art, so we learn by doing. not by talking. that being said, i know i talk way more than i should in my class, but its while i'm teaching the waza, and explaining it. in this case, i feel like i'm talking the students through the technique as we do it, as opposed to talking AB0UT a techniqu INSTEAD of doing it.

i'm probably swinging the pendulum way over to the other side... but if we take aikido into a class room, then i don't think its an aikido class anymore. its a 'concepts of aikido' class or something.

now lets all break into individual discussion groups... :P
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Old 10-28-2008, 05:20 PM   #4
Charles Hill
Dojo: Numazu Aikikai/Aikikai Honbu Dojo
Location: Three Lakes WI/ Mishima Japan
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Re: formal "class" as a supplement to keiko?

Hi Dave,

I think you have an excellent idea. It is my understanding that Shigenobu Okumura did the same once a month at the Ueshiba's house next door to Honbu. He also did talk a lot during his keiko as well, going so far as to regularly using a chalkboard.

As for the problem of talking, I find that a lot of talking that goes on among people practicing is a defense mechanism against fear of practice. They are afraid and try to put off movement with talk. So to stop that, one must work to reduce the fear, then the talking will go down too.

As for the teacher talking, remember that O'sensei talked a lot.
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Old 10-28-2008, 06:53 PM   #5
dave9nine
Dojo: Aikido Institute - Oakland
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Re: formal "class" as a supplement to keiko?

Thanks fellas.

To clarify, I do not, and would not, want a class like the one im suggesting to be anything more than a "supplement."

But, for example, to answer Jerome when he says "if we take aikido into a class room, then i don't think its an aikido class anymore. its a 'concepts of aikido' class or something."
My response is: is a physical aikido class not a 'concepts of aikido' class also?

To frame this in another way:
if we can say that becoming (at least) proficient in the art of aikido means that a person must work to build a bridge between the mind and the body and realize the integration and wholeness of these, then does it not help such a person to build this bridge using any and all means available?

To add comparison to this question, i think of our (western) education system, and the often cited criticism that one of the system's flaws is that it approaches all children as if they all learn the same; "some children are visual learners," you'll hear people say, while others insist they "learn better one on one", etc....
So, to extract this argument, can we not say that we too, as aikidoka, must all have different strengths and weaknesses with regards to how we learn? and if so, would it not be beneficial to some to spend their intellectual energy in a class like i described, so that when the are on the mat, they have more understanding to go on?

I have also read and heard that O-sensei could be quite talkative.
How different would Aikido as we know it be if he was also a scholar and held lecture-style talks after evening keiko?

Also, i saw some thought that a class like the one i suggest would result in more talking on the mat......but it didnt see the "how" or 'why" part....

-dave
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Old 10-28-2008, 08:38 PM   #6
ramenboy
Dojo: midwest aikido center
Location: chicago
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Re: formal "class" as a supplement to keiko?

Quote:
Dave Lewin wrote: View Post
Thanks fellas.

To clarify, I do not, and would not, want a class like the one im suggesting to be anything more than a "supplement."

But, for example, to answer Jerome when he says "if we take aikido into a class room, then i don't think its an aikido class anymore. its a 'concepts of aikido' class or something."
My response is: is a physical aikido class not a 'concepts of aikido' class also?

...
hi dave
'concepts' is one thing. 'application' is another, and that's why we practice on the mat.

at any rate, tohei sensei would have, once a month, on tuesdays, a discussion class. we'd clean the mat after first class and then pile into the lounge, and we were free to ask him any questions any he would answer them all. liek you said, it was a supplement to our regular daily training.

but if that's all we did, was just talk about aikido without doing it, we'd just turn into a bunch of armchair aikidoists.
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Old 10-28-2008, 08:46 PM   #7
ramenboy
Dojo: midwest aikido center
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Re: formal "class" as a supplement to keiko?

then again,

isn't that what we're doing here on aikiweb? having supplemental discussions about aikido? and sometimes concepts? and sometimes application of technique?

hmmmmmmm
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Old 10-28-2008, 10:02 PM   #8
Ketsan
Dojo: Zanshin Kai
Location: Birmingham
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Re: formal "class" as a supplement to keiko?

To me it's always staggering to think about what beginners must learn before they understand what they are doing and why in the dojo.

The interesting thing is that there is no mechanism set up to teach them. If it get's taught it's because individual instructors or students pass on what they know rather than a formalised system.

For instance a beginner might ask why they have to bow. To them it's just bowing. To someone more experienced the beginner has just opened the door onto the rather large topic of reigi which the beginner, as yet, is almost totally unaware of.

If I'm trying to get them to do ikkyo I don't have time to explain the ins and outs or reigi to them, but they want to know. The only time I would have time to explain everything is at the bar after training, which seems to be a sloppy system to me.
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Old 10-29-2008, 02:53 AM   #9
grondahl
Dojo: Stockholms Aikidoklubb
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Re: formal "class" as a supplement to keiko?

I think that some kind of planned teaching regarding the history of aikido, why the particular dojo adhers to a certain pedagogical style etc is a good idea. But I don´t think that it´s a solution to the problem with people talking during keiko. Those that talk rather then train probably need more physical waza, not more talking.

Last edited by grondahl : 10-29-2008 at 03:04 AM.
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Old 10-29-2008, 11:20 AM   #10
dave9nine
Dojo: Aikido Institute - Oakland
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Re: formal "class" as a supplement to keiko?

Alex:
thanks for your comment--that's exactly what i had in mind when i started thinking about this.
For example, there's another thread right now called "dissatisfied with dojo's training style" or something rather, and the author is a newbee who appears frustrated precisely because upon embarking on an aikido journey, they find themselves overwhelmed with the amount of information they must take in and process, versus the way the dissemination of this info is facilitated (i.e. there is a lot to 'intellectualize' and understand, but they feel pressure from an expectation that they should be picking it all up right then and there and transforming it into competent physical technique on the mat).

perhaps the kind of class im talking about would be best for beginners, who commonly get overwhelmed by this.

hmmm indeed..
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Old 10-31-2008, 12:26 PM   #11
Mark Uttech
Dojo: Yoshin-ji Aikido of Marshall
Location: Wisconsin
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Re: formal "class" as a supplement to keiko?

Onegaishimasu. On one of the threads here, someone once mentioned a study class using the book "The Spirit of Aikido" by Kisshomaru Ueshiba. The study class included a series of questions for discussion and was a nice educational example. If anyone else remembers this, it may be useful to do some research.

In gassho,

Mark

- Right combination works wonders -
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Old 11-28-2008, 06:39 PM   #12
bdwilliamscraig
 
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Dojo: Free Aiki Dojo, Golden Bears Aikido, Aikido of Berkeley, Aiki Extensions
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Re: formal "class" as a supplement to keiko?

Seems to me, as we discuss a "way" that values both -jutsu and -do, there will be shut-up-and-train application, lectures, books, dialogues, videos, silent uchi deshi, loquacious sempai, conferences combining all of the above, arguments of a more and less useful nature, and the question remains how to do all of this well and in balance so "aiki" is served in all.

My question is not "should we talk?" but "in what ways do we practice the use of words such that we are more flexible and ethically powerful martial artists dedicated to the arts of peace?"

At Aikido of Berkeley we move much more than we talk, on the mat, and have community circles with food and conversation at least every week, after classes.
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Old 11-29-2008, 11:51 PM   #13
DonMagee
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Re: formal "class" as a supplement to keiko?

Not aikido, but when I teach my judo class I talk them though the technique, then they practice with the drills I have laid out. I make sure to keep them working so hard they don't have time to chatter. If they have a question of course they can ask it and I will help that pair out with their question. Sometimes I will then stop the class to have them listen to the question and my response.

Talking is a vital skill required to teach. If you can't communicate with your students either criticism or praise they will never know if what they are doing is right, or just looks right.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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