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Old 12-21-2008, 10:28 AM   #1
Mary Eastland
 
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Atmosphere on the mat

This came up in the anonymous forum.
In a certain dojo talking on the mat seems forbidden. I can see where silence as a practice could be wonderful in a sense. However, silence embedded with tension would be hard for me.

My intention is not to critisize another dojo..my intention is to learn about how other people do things and learn from your experience.

This got me to thinking about why I train and how important communication is to me. At our dojo we talk and laugh often. Ron and I do not take ourselves very seriously. There are no formalities about rank. He and I take care of the dojo's upkeep because it is at our house. We take care of our own hakamas. Fawning or placing importance on rank is overlooked and not encouraged.

At the end of most classes students take a turn at talking. We are very earnest about Aikido and what it means to us.
I am not thinking about this in a right or wrong way…but I am interested in what happens at other dojos and how you feel about what happens.

Mary
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Old 12-21-2008, 10:36 AM   #2
Marko Ilic
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Re: Atmosphere on the mat

At my dojo,we talk and our sensei lets us,but everything has got a limit for example: we talk when we are doing techniques and when doing ukemi,but when a new technique or ukemi is demonstrated we don't talk then; if someone talks then he does 10 push-ups.

Peace
Marko
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Old 12-21-2008, 11:24 AM   #3
Lyle Laizure
 
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Re: Atmosphere on the mat

This recently came up at my sensei's dojo. We had a visitor from another school criticize how practices were run, specifically there was too much talking during practice. Well he doesn't come around much anymore.

At my own dojo, I do not encourage conversation. I do encourage students to help one another during practice. Sometimes this means talking. On the other hand if they want to talk about thier weekend plans and such I would like to see that happen during a break or after practice. But if you can do that between attacking and being thrown, and it isn't a distraction to your training I generally wont' get involved. There are times that I will request there be no talking, to help students feel the movement without the intrusion of noise. It's also fun to turn the lights out and practice in the dark.

Lyle Laizure
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Deru kugi wa uta reru
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Old 12-21-2008, 12:11 PM   #4
David Maidment
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Re: Atmosphere on the mat

We have one rule regarding talking: "What little talking there is should be kept to one subject: Aikido". However, outside of the kids' classes I've never heard any criticism of chatting on the mat. Usually we're just discussing techniques or pointing things out to one another. It's a good atmosphere in which to train.
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Old 12-21-2008, 02:22 PM   #5
crbateman
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Re: Atmosphere on the mat

In my travels, I have seen it run the gamut from one extreme to the other. It's pretty much up to those in charge, and they usually opt for whatever they were taught, unless they felt it better done a different way. Mary, you mentioned tension, but I would submit that tension is within one's own psyche, and within one's own control. The situation cannot make you tense unless you allow it to do so. So, just relax, and tell yourself that, when in Rome...
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Old 12-21-2008, 02:40 PM   #6
DevinHammer
 
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Re: Atmosphere on the mat

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
This came up in the anonymous forum.
In a certain dojo talking on the mat seems forbidden. I can see where silence as a practice could be wonderful in a sense. However, silence embedded with tension would be hard for me.

Mary
Not knowing anything else about this "certain" dojo, or its kohai to sempai range and ratio, it's hard to say whether this is a good or bad thing for them. However, generally speaking, forbidding ANY talking seems like it would be counter-productive. Even students of equal rank need to be able to communicate for safety, if nothing else. Sempai should be able to counsel their kohai while practicing. IMHO this is where most of the learning happens. My gut impression is that the sensei may have some "issues", and may feel the need to be the only one on the mat who is "teaching" at any time. I would not be happy at this dojo.

"Do, or do not. There is no 'try'."
-- Jedi Master Yoda
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Old 12-21-2008, 04:56 PM   #7
grondahl
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Re: Atmosphere on the mat

I´m a firm believer in keeping talking during keiko to an absolute minimum, especially in order to keep "Sempai teaching" down.
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Old 12-21-2008, 05:13 PM   #8
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Atmosphere on the mat

Quote:
Mary Eastland wrote: View Post
This came up in the anonymous forum.
In a certain dojo talking on the mat seems forbidden. I can see where silence as a practice could be wonderful in a sense. However, silence embedded with tension would be hard for me.

My intention is not to critisize another dojo..my intention is to learn about how other people do things and learn from your experience.

This got me to thinking about why I train and how important communication is to me. At our dojo we talk and laugh often. Ron and I do not take ourselves very seriously. There are no formalities about rank. He and I take care of the dojo's upkeep because it is at our house. We take care of our own hakamas. Fawning or placing importance on rank is overlooked and not encouraged.

At the end of most classes students take a turn at talking. We are very earnest about Aikido and what it means to us.
I am not thinking about this in a right or wrong way…but I am interested in what happens at other dojos and how you feel about what happens.

Mary
Yes, everything seems to mesh with what we do in my dojo here, except for the following:

"At the end of most classes students take a turn at talking. We are very earnest about Aikido and what it means to us."

So are we, but we do not show this by talking about it. In face we not have any rules or custom at all. So, last night, the theme of the class (mixed, with total beginners and yudasnsha) was yokomen strikes and the waza were a combination of kihon and oyou. Of course, there was some talking around the dojo, for some mid-ranks needed to have finer points explained and the total beginners needed more detailed directions--as they practised. After class, people got changed and the yudansha folded their hakamas--and we went home. There was certainly no silence, but no specific talking about aikido, either.

Sometimes (always in my own experience), having a tense atmosphere and being 'martial' are confused.

Best wishes,

P A Goldsbury
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Old 12-21-2008, 06:13 PM   #9
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Atmosphere on the mat

Typo:

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
In fact we not have any rules or custom at all.

P A Goldsbury
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Old 12-21-2008, 07:45 PM   #10
DevinHammer
 
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Re: Atmosphere on the mat

Quote:
Peter Gröndahl wrote: View Post
I´m a firm believer in keeping talking during keiko to an absolute minimum, especially in order to keep "Sempai teaching" down.
I'm curious as to why you think "sempai teaching" should be suppressed.
(and perhaps first you should define "sempai teaching")

"Do, or do not. There is no 'try'."
-- Jedi Master Yoda
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Old 12-21-2008, 08:19 PM   #11
raul rodrigo
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Re: Atmosphere on the mat

Sempai teaching would be a problem when sempai isn't as skilled as he thinks he is, and his detailed instructions to his juniors actually get in the way of their learning. It happens quite a bit.
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Old 12-21-2008, 08:35 PM   #12
Aikibu
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Re: Atmosphere on the mat

Atmosphere is everything on the mat and can determine if you're learning something or wasting everyone's time. I am often the senior student and I take my cue from Sensei if he tells me I am talking too much then I shut up. One thing I never ever do is contradict him and no one else on the mat does either. If we have a question about something we simply ask him over and most of the time this what I end up doing anyway. LOL

If I am visiting another Dojo I never say anything and always defer to the Sensei even if I think he/she is completely screwed up or "we don't do it that way." There is plenty of time after practice to discuss methodology over dinner.

William Hazen
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Old 12-21-2008, 09:12 PM   #13
mathewjgano
 
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Re: Atmosphere on the mat

At Kannagara dojo we often chat while training...particularly when we haven't seen someone for a while or some noteworthy piece of news comes along. Generally no one speaks when sensei demonstrates technique...partly because sensei is often describing some aspect of the movement he wants us to pay attention to. At Kannagara dojo we have a lot of formality too though. Being a Shinto shrine we have some very sacred space and thus rules which cannot be ignored. When sampaishya come to offer prayers to kamisama we must stay off the center line of the dojo and adopt a respectful noise level. Apart from that, the beginning of class, and the end of class, we typically are a jolly bunch of aikidoka, and the sounds reflects this.
(sigh)...I really miss keiko.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 12-21-2008, 09:37 PM   #14
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: Atmosphere on the mat

Quote:
Raul Rodrigo wrote: View Post
Sempai teaching would be a problem when sempai isn't as skilled as he thinks he is, and his detailed instructions to his juniors actually get in the way of their learning. It happens quite a bit.
Raul, you still out there?

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Old 12-21-2008, 09:45 PM   #15
raul rodrigo
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Re: Atmosphere on the mat

Yes. Why?
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Old 12-21-2008, 10:20 PM   #16
Akako110
 
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Re: Atmosphere on the mat

At the dojo I go to you can talk before class, you can talk with your partner while doing a technique, and you can talk after class...At the end we circle up and we kinda' talk ( I listen) anyway you just can't talk while sensei's talkin' or teaching.

Tara
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Old 12-22-2008, 04:03 AM   #17
grondahl
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Re: Atmosphere on the mat

Rauls answer is partly correct.
I really don´t see a need for sempai to teach during keiko, there is already an instructor leading the class.
My experience is also that the really skilled and experienced sempai can teach me what is lacking in my waza without resorting to talking. So sempai should teach by letting me feel how the waza is supposed to feel like and by giving me good and honest ukemi to deal with.

For me real knowledge (as opposed to just information) is something that I gain trough direct experience. Keiko is my single chance to do that, talking is just taking up valuable time.
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Old 12-22-2008, 05:16 AM   #18
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: Atmosphere on the mat

The atmosphere on the mat would be in my mind "purposeful" but at the same time disciplined as this I have found leads to less "accidents" and more "awareness"...... No unnecessary chit chat as this does add to distraction......
As one of my old sensei would say "Less talk more Do" to those that had the tendency to tongue wag!
Tony
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Old 12-22-2008, 07:02 AM   #19
Ewan Wilson
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Re: Atmosphere on the mat

tends to be younger people who are guilty of this in my experience. verging on the point of asking the question "why are you here?". I'm all for enjoying each other's company but it can get in the way of progress. it's up to Sensei how he or she runs the class and possibly, something you think they've missed, it's possible they've already decided an attitude to it for good reason. who knows?!

as long as it doesn't become a gossiping session and yellow belts teaching white belts then a bit of chat is ok imo as long there's silence when Sensei is showing you something. a little bit of respect and common sense!
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Old 12-22-2008, 07:14 AM   #20
lbb
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Re: Atmosphere on the mat

When Peter used the expression "sempai teaching", I was reminded of an expression you hear sometimes in karate circles: "No one knows as much about karate as a green belt. Just ask one." (green belt in Japanese karate styles is a rank that you'd probably obtain in less than a year, if you trained regularly). "Sempai" covers a lot of ground, and so, of course, could the expression "sempai teaching": from a sandan who offers a couple of words to clear up a kohai's confusion over the technique being practiced, to the unranked student who started training last month offering up a soliloquy for the benefit of the student who started training today. The difference is in a few words while you're training vs. a lot of words instead of training.

We don't sit and talk about what we think about aikido after class, or at any other time, and I have to admit I don't find the idea at all appealing. Situations like that seem full of the potential for pressuring people to take an ordinary experience and turn it into something prodigious or extraordinarily meaningful. On the average day, my training isn't going to be anything special, and if I were to say so, it would be humpty-dumptying the meaning of "special". I don't want to have a bunch of people looking at me at the end of class, expecting me to talk about what aikido means to me. It doesn't mean anything to me -- which is not the same thing as saying that it doesn't matter to me.
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Old 12-22-2008, 03:53 PM   #21
dave9nine
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Re: Atmosphere on the mat

not too long ago i tried to start a thread that didnt get very far and it was along these lines.
What i suggested was talking seems to be more necessary when people are starting out and need a lot of explanation, and then it seems to become less necessary.
As such, i advocated some sort of formal "discussion group" as it were, for people who want to "discuss" things, to get it out of their system outside of keiko time; but this did not seem to be too popular of an idea.

I think in the end the sensei and senior instructors should be monitoring this and keeping talking on the mat to a bare minimum. For example, at my dojo if instructors see people talking, they will come and see what the discussion is about, and then stop class training to demonstrate the point (and to interrupt the actual talking) and then ask the class to take note of the point and proceed. As a student this helps curtail the talking because you know ahead of time that if you get into a discussion, the sensei will see and stop class and, and your training will get too many interruptions.

-dave
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