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Old 07-13-2010, 09:13 AM   #1
ruthmc
Dojo: Wokingham Aikido
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Not applying techniques to new students?

Just wondering what everyone else's philosophy is on this one

At our dojo we're pretty nice to beginning students - we don't fully apply techniques such as shihonage and sankyo to them, mainly because we want them to go very slowly through the ukemi in order to learn how to do it, and to avoid injuring them.

The downside of this is that the new students can generally turn out of the techniques, and often do, despite us asking them not to!

I've also noticed that although we are very gentle with them, walking slowly through the techniques, when it comes to the beginner's turn to be tori they sometimes try to use as much force and speed on us as they can co-ordinate

Does Sensei have to remind them every 5 minutes that we are walking through techniques slowly until they know what they are doing? Do people just get carried away? Do we need to emphasise the co-operative nature of the art more? Or should we just show them the reality of the techniques and end up with very sore new students?

Ruth (who finds herself constantly nagging people to slow down and apply the principles rather than rushing poorly through techniques!)
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Old 07-13-2010, 09:49 AM   #2
Dazzler
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Re: Not applying techniques to new students?

Hi Ruth

If theres something good to say to a newby I try and say it to the individual, if theres something negative to say I usually demonstrate it to the whole group.

so in the context of your example I'd use a more experience uke rather than a newby so a. the newbs don't feel that they are being nagged and b. they dont get any unrequired pain.

This way everyone gets to learn from an individuals mistakes.

Cheers

D
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Old 07-13-2010, 10:19 AM   #3
ruthmc
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Re: Not applying techniques to new students?

Hi Daren,

Good to hear from you When Sensei or I are teaching, we don't generally use a newby as demo uke, so no problem there. It's more an issue when everyone is practising in pairs or small groups. I agree that it's best to correct the group rather than the individual, but this can often go over the head of the newby who is still trying to work out which foot to move in which direction first..

One way I have seen teachers deal with the problem is to allow the newbies to throw the experienced students and not take any ukemi themselves. I don't like this approach as to me Aikido is 50% ukemi, and learning to fall safely is a much more valuable life skill - you have much more chance of falling than of being attacked 'in the street'!

When I teach I really try to accentuate the positive, encouraging the students as much as possible, eg "That was an excellent use of extension" or "Really good use of centre". If they are praised for applying the principles correctly they are less likely to try to muscle techniques - I hope

Ruth

Quote:
Daren Sims wrote: View Post
Hi Ruth

If theres something good to say to a newby I try and say it to the individual, if theres something negative to say I usually demonstrate it to the whole group.

so in the context of your example I'd use a more experience uke rather than a newby so a. the newbs don't feel that they are being nagged and b. they dont get any unrequired pain.

This way everyone gets to learn from an individuals mistakes.

Cheers

D
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Old 07-13-2010, 10:52 AM   #4
Lyle Laizure
 
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Re: Not applying techniques to new students?

My two cents.

I stress to everyone we practice slowly, newbie or not. Better to learn a technique properly I say. For newbies I have a more advanced student work with them, throwing them 10 or so times for a given technique before letting them throw their sempai. Proper ukemi is very important. When a newbie throws a student hard I let them know very quickly that they should only throw as hard as they are prepared to fall. When the newbie wiggles out of a technique because it is done slowly I explain that they need to learn the movement and how to fall properly so in the beginning stages there is a lot of cooperation between uke and nage. With more difficult individuals, and this is rare, I will demonstrate the error of thier ways once or twice with an invitation that if they want to practice "hard" they are more than welcome to with me only. Pain is a great teacher if used properly.

Lyle Laizure
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Old 07-13-2010, 12:00 PM   #5
JO
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Re: Not applying techniques to new students?

If a newbie is wiggling out of a technique, I try to tighten the control so that they can't. I take it as meaning that my technique is too sloppy, not that their ukemi is wrong. "Proper" ukemi puts you into a position that protects you and/or allows you to neutralize or counter the technique. So the newbies turning out of the technique are doing proper ukemi. With beginners you sometimes need to go slow but you must also maintain good control or they may do something dumb like landing on their heads or shoulders. So improving your technique by simply going faster would be wrong, fast sloppy throws are the most dangerous (why I am always careful when taking ukemi from a beginner, but that's a different issue).

Jonathan Olson
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Old 07-13-2010, 12:05 PM   #6
jonreading
 
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Re: Not applying techniques to new students?

We get new students involved in ukemi as early as possible. Ukemi, joint locks, takedowns, sutemi, etc. The faster we get the student competent at protecting her body, the faster we can apply techniques safely to the student.

I also tend to stress to students to apply the technique correctly, at the speed appropriate for uke to protect herself. But I think it is critical the technique is correct, even if it causes discomfort for uke. Learning is for the methodical analysis of technique, training is the application and exercise of that technique. It goes without saying that most new students are not competent to train at accelerated speed for some time...

I have noticed that new students often have a skeptical opinion of aikido and its techniques. Showing techniques that these students can either resist or escape does not teach them anything about aikido, nor does it persuade them of the merit of aikido. Be compassionate to their body's limitations, but don't spare the rod...

The discomfort of training aikido is like all exercise pain, it will subside as the body conditions itself for the activity. No sense delaying the inevitable...
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Old 07-13-2010, 01:35 PM   #7
Marie Noelle Fequiere
 
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Re: Not applying techniques to new students?

In my dojo, there is not set rule about this, but we do tend to be more gentle with newbies. This means that the technique will be applied correctly, but more slowly. Even when I was a newbie, I was never able to wiggle out of a shihonage. One needs to feel what a technique actually does so they can learn how to apply it to someone else.

It makes sense to handle a new student with care. Their joints are not used to be mistreated, and lack flexibility. But they need to get gradually used to feel the technique, and also practice their ukemi!
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Old 07-13-2010, 03:18 PM   #8
aikishihan
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Re: Not applying techniques to new students?

What are techniques?

What are they intended to accomplish?

What are the requirements to perform techniques?

For me, techniques are the what we use to practice and better understand Aiki principles, and to create a conversation with our training partners that result in a win win outcome, each time.

Techniques are what therapists us to guide their patients through a learning or a relearning process, using words, demonstrations and hand in hand walk throughs of the desired movement or result.

Techniques are what caring and loving parents use to communicate education and understanding to their infants, adolescents and children regardless of age, doing so with love, discipline and compassion.

Techniques are what both instructors and teachers employ to help willing and committed students incorporate movements, concepts and proven interactive exchanges of verbal, emotional and physical merit for the development of the students's goals and growth.

Yup, techniques are definitely for beginners.

Question is, what techniques are you using to help them safely and successfully grow and achieve?
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Old 07-13-2010, 10:26 PM   #9
lbb
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Re: Not applying techniques to new students?

Quote:
Ruth Rae wrote: View Post
Does Sensei have to remind them every 5 minutes that we are walking through techniques slowly until they know what they are doing? Do people just get carried away? Do we need to emphasise the co-operative nature of the art more? Or should we just show them the reality of the techniques and end up with very sore new students?
It depends on why they're doing what they're doing. When they're taking ukemi and they start wriggling around or turning the wrong way, it's often an honest mistake. The correct moves of ukemi are counterintuitive to a lot of us (I'll count myself in that number), and when a technique is being applied to a newbie, they often move in exactly the wrong way even though they're trying to go with the technique (they are giving it up, they're just giving up the wrong thing). There's a difference between a newbie like this, and one who is just being a smartass and trying to show you that they know a thing or two.

Likewise, when a newbie is being nage, a lot of them rush for reasons that aren't necessarily malicious or even careless -- they're just not capable of slowing down. My sensei always tells them, "Don't be in such a rush to get to the end of the movie, you gotta bake the cake before you can eat it," and so on, and they nod their heads, and clearly it makes intellectual sense...but they can't let go of the end of the technique and their need to get there. Then you have people who always do these jackrabbit starts, especially noticeable when doing kihon. I was working last night with a woman who does this, who's been training for a couple of years and who I've been telling, "Whoa, slow down" for a couple of years. I'm starting to think the issue in her case is that she wants to make a big opening (which is often called for, but not always), to get good kuzushi, and she believes on some level that she can't get those things unless she moves very fast. Maybe the best solution in that case is to get the newbie to really watch Sensei or sempai who have good form, and to show them how "things happening quickly" and "fast movement" are two different things.
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Old 07-14-2010, 04:08 AM   #10
ruthmc
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Re: Not applying techniques to new students?

Quote:
Francis Takahashi wrote: View Post
Yup, techniques are definitely for beginners.

Question is, what techniques are you using to help them safely and successfully grow and achieve?
Sensei prefers to teach pretty much the Aikikai Hombu 6th kyu grading syllabus.

I prefer to teach principles (the 'tools' one can use to take uke's balance) such as 3rd point and extension, with the syllabus technique almost secondary. That way even if they can't remember what Iriminage looks like, they will at least have some idea how to disrupt an attack.

Hopefully both approaches have their merits

Ruth
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Old 07-14-2010, 04:24 AM   #11
ruthmc
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Re: Not applying techniques to new students?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
It depends on why they're doing what they're doing. When they're taking ukemi and they start wriggling around or turning the wrong way, it's often an honest mistake. The correct moves of ukemi are counterintuitive to a lot of us (I'll count myself in that number), and when a technique is being applied to a newbie, they often move in exactly the wrong way even though they're trying to go with the technique (they are giving it up, they're just giving up the wrong thing).
Hi Mary,

Yes, definitely agree with this! We tend to slacken off when the newbie heads in the wrong direction, as tightening up will cause them pain and maybe damage, which we are careful not to have happen. Unfortunately this only leaves verbal explaination as an option, although I will resort to putting my hands on their shoulders and guiding them through the ukemi while tori goes through the technique - not strictly pc but it does work with most people!

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Likewise, when a newbie is being nage, a lot of them rush for reasons that aren't necessarily malicious or even careless -- they're just not capable of slowing down. My sensei always tells them, "Don't be in such a rush to get to the end of the movie, you gotta bake the cake before you can eat it," and so on, and they nod their heads, and clearly it makes intellectual sense...but they can't let go of the end of the technique and their need to get there.Maybe the best solution in that case is to get the newbie to really watch Sensei or sempai who have good form, and to show them how "things happening quickly" and "fast movement" are two different things.
Yes, again I agree, people are racing for the finish line Maybe it's because most folks' prior experience of sports have involved speed and competition, and the Aiki mindset is somewhat different Sensei and I do demonstrate at different speeds, and everyone adapts their speed depending upon who they are training with, but I'm not sure how well new students are able to internalize this and apply it to what they do..?

I think that the approach in a class that is almost all newbies would be different to a class (like ours) where we have every stage from newbie to nidan. We have toyed with the idea of trying to have a beginners session, but we doubt we'd get the numbers to make it feasible at the moment.

Thanks for the replies so far everone, very interesting to hear others experiences

Ruth
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Old 07-14-2010, 05:59 AM   #12
Anita Dacanay
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Re: Not applying techniques to new students?

Well, as a 6th kyu, I will say that it was only after a year or so of practicing that I began to truly understand how much I had been muscling and pushing while attempting to do techniques. At this point: sometimes I catch myself, sometimes not, sometimes I actually do something correctly! Now I see this struggle in other beginners all of the time.

I think most people carry a lot of muscular tension that they are not aware of; I think that the difficult task of trying to learn Aikido makes them more anxious/tense; I think that this makes them work harder and faster despite good intentions. It takes a while to internalize the concept of staying relaxed while being faced with a strike - even a slow strike from a benevolent partner.

Some instructors are better than others in encouraging beginners to slow down and feel the technique. The most helpful classes for me (in this regard) have been ones in which we take a basic technique, like shomenuchi ikkyo omote, and break it down into each little step. Sensei takes time w/each person - stopping & correcting him or her the minute they start to go awry. This is very time-consuming, but appropriate for beginners who don't have a clue what it is they are trying to achieve.
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Old 07-14-2010, 08:10 AM   #13
Mark Uttech
Dojo: Yoshin-ji Aikido of Marshall
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Re: Not applying techniques to new students?

Onegaishimasu. The focus I use when teaching technique is 'natural body movement'... Since everyone's body is different, I try to show more than one way to do a technique and watch the students try them out. Their natural body movement is going to gravitate toward a certain way and they polish their technique that way.

In gassho,

Mark

- Right combination works wonders -
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Old 07-14-2010, 12:00 PM   #14
RED
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Re: Not applying techniques to new students?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post

Likewise, when a newbie is being nage, a lot of them rush for reasons that aren't necessarily malicious or even careless -- they're just not capable of slowing down. .
I've experienced this. When I've questioned a first week student why they are going so fast, they more than many times have expressed to me that they "think" they are going slow. I demonstrate it slowly for them, and I tell them to go as fast as I am. But when they go super fast afterwords, they swear up and down that they thought that they were going slow.

I think there might be a tendency to confuse smooth technique with speed.
I don't have any answer to this issue. I'll let my Sensei figure it out.
But I just wanted to say that I agree that they might not be able to slow down.

MM
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Old 07-14-2010, 12:54 PM   #15
lbb
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Re: Not applying techniques to new students?

Quote:
Maggie Schill wrote: View Post
I think there might be a tendency to confuse smooth technique with speed.
Exactly. In fact, I think the reverse is true: get the smoothness, and the "speed" will follow (not the obvious kind of speed, but the "things happening quickly" speed I mentioned before). In my EMT training, when we'd be doing a scenario and starting to rush, our instructor would say, "Slow is smooth; smooth is fast." When you're dealing with a (presumably) injured person, it's not necessary to understand the need for smooth movement, and as a beginning student, if going slow is the only way you can be smooth, you don't have so much trouble slowing down. And then you get smooth, and then the task you were trying to accomplish gets done sooner (not to mention better) than if you were trying to rush.
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Old 07-15-2010, 01:55 PM   #16
Budd
 
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Re: Not applying techniques to new students?

Yeah, it's a pretty good rule that if you can't do it correctly when moving slowly, your chances of pulling it off when speeding up are even less . .
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Old 07-15-2010, 02:29 PM   #17
Marc Abrams
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Re: Not applying techniques to new students?

Working with a beginner is an excellent opportunity to train yourself in the finer applications of a technique. Maintaining connection without force and pain takes some serious practice. It can be done so that the uke is really not capable of wiggling free, spinning out of techniques,etc.. When this happens, this can be a great teaching tool for identifying problems in our execution of waza that tend to be "hidden"/masked by a quick execution of a technique.

Marc Abrams
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Old 07-15-2010, 03:47 PM   #18
Keith Larman
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Re: Not applying techniques to new students?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
"Slow is smooth; smooth is fast."
When faced with glazed looks when I've used the same expression, an explanation I've used a few times is to consider the shortest distance between two points. If you zigzag along the way it takes much longer to get from point a to b. The key is learning to go in a straight line (get rid of superfluous stuff) so you can travel the straight line. That level of efficiency allows someone to appear astoundingly fast. The reality is that if someone is doing half the movement you are, they can most "as fast" as you and be done twice as quickly. Or they can move half as fast but still be done in the blink of an eye. It isn't so much about moving slowly, but about moving *correctly*. So I remind them that the solution for them is not to speed up. The solution is to slow down and get it as efficient and smooth as possible. Only then does "correct" speed come into being. Or another way to view it, speed is the last thing you develop. And frankly you don't really have to develop it -- it just arrives when everything else is right. So never pursue speed. Pursue correctness.

Then to use Kuroda-sensei as an example... If you're incredibly smooth, incredibly efficient, *and* very fast as well, you'll seem to have superhuman speed. That would be nice...

Last edited by Keith Larman : 07-15-2010 at 03:47 PM. Reason: clarification

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Old 07-15-2010, 06:51 PM   #19
Marc Abrams
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Re: Not applying techniques to new students?

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote: View Post
When faced with glazed looks when I've used the same expression, an explanation I've used a few times is to consider the shortest distance between two points. If you zigzag along the way it takes much longer to get from point a to b. The key is learning to go in a straight line (get rid of superfluous stuff) so you can travel the straight line. That level of efficiency allows someone to appear astoundingly fast. The reality is that if someone is doing half the movement you are, they can most "as fast" as you and be done twice as quickly. Or they can move half as fast but still be done in the blink of an eye. It isn't so much about moving slowly, but about moving *correctly*. So I remind them that the solution for them is not to speed up. The solution is to slow down and get it as efficient and smooth as possible. Only then does "correct" speed come into being. Or another way to view it, speed is the last thing you develop. And frankly you don't really have to develop it -- it just arrives when everything else is right. So never pursue speed. Pursue correctness.

Then to use Kuroda-sensei as an example... If you're incredibly smooth, incredibly efficient, *and* very fast as well, you'll seem to have superhuman speed. That would be nice...
Keith:

You are not trying to tell me that Kuroda Sensei is actually human are you ! In the picture dictionary of words and phrases, his picture is under efficient movement" .

Marc Abrams
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Old 07-15-2010, 09:03 PM   #20
lbb
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Re: Not applying techniques to new students?

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote: View Post
When faced with glazed looks when I've used the same expression, an explanation I've used a few times is to consider the shortest distance between two points. If you zigzag along the way it takes much longer to get from point a to b. The key is learning to go in a straight line (get rid of superfluous stuff) so you can travel the straight line. That level of efficiency allows someone to appear astoundingly fast. The reality is that if someone is doing half the movement you are, they can most "as fast" as you and be done twice as quickly. Or they can move half as fast but still be done in the blink of an eye. It isn't so much about moving slowly, but about moving *correctly*.
Oooh. Yeah. That. That's what it is. When I was saying "things happen fast", what I was trying to get at was, the "smooth" person is effective in a short period of time. And, as you say, they're able to do so by moving correctly and eliminating the extraneous crap.

Thanks for the comment -- now I get how "slow is smooth, smooth is fast" really works.
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Old 07-16-2010, 08:37 AM   #21
ruthmc
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Re: Not applying techniques to new students?

Thank you for this Keith - it's a brilliant explanation

When I next teach a class we will be concentrating on efficient movement

Ruth

Quote:
Keith Larman wrote: View Post
When faced with glazed looks when I've used the same expression, an explanation I've used a few times is to consider the shortest distance between two points. If you zigzag along the way it takes much longer to get from point a to b. The key is learning to go in a straight line (get rid of superfluous stuff) so you can travel the straight line. That level of efficiency allows someone to appear astoundingly fast. The reality is that if someone is doing half the movement you are, they can most "as fast" as you and be done twice as quickly. Or they can move half as fast but still be done in the blink of an eye. It isn't so much about moving slowly, but about moving *correctly*. So I remind them that the solution for them is not to speed up. The solution is to slow down and get it as efficient and smooth as possible. Only then does "correct" speed come into being. Or another way to view it, speed is the last thing you develop. And frankly you don't really have to develop it -- it just arrives when everything else is right. So never pursue speed. Pursue correctness.

Then to use Kuroda-sensei as an example... If you're incredibly smooth, incredibly efficient, *and* very fast as well, you'll seem to have superhuman speed. That would be nice...
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Old 07-16-2010, 12:46 PM   #22
Keith Larman
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Re: Not applying techniques to new students?

Quote:
Marc Abrams wrote: View Post
Keith:

You are not trying to tell me that Kuroda Sensei is actually human are you ! ...

Marc Abrams
Ironically enough I was watching a DVD of one of his seminars this morning. I would love to feel what he's doing. So, no, I'm not entirely convinced he is human. Reminds me of some of the stuff Toby sometimes pulls out from under his hat.

My usual reaction...

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Old 07-25-2010, 09:41 PM   #23
JCT53
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Re: Not applying techniques to new students?

At the dojo I train at, the first lesson(s) are devoted to ukemi. We first are shown the fall my an anvanced student and then talk a bit about it. Then, we do the fall from sitting (for back falls, back roll falls, and side falls). Next we do then on our feet (crouching). The last steps are taking the fall standing on the crash pad and finally, on the regulaar mat. As for beginners, my sensei shows th technique and has us try slowy followed by a time or two being uke for that technique while it is explained. When beiung thrown, we aren't thrown really hard unless we are being cocky and saying that it doesn't work or that it was weak. Personally, I enjor when a person comes for their first class and after I demonstrate the ukemi to them (I am the only one who likes to take fall without being thrown as well as when being thrown) they say thats easy. So, they are invited to show how easy it is. If they are sore so be it

"Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment."
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Old 07-26-2010, 01:08 AM   #24
Mark Gibbons
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Re: Not applying techniques to new students?

Quote:
Jessica Tackett wrote: View Post
... When beiung thrown, we aren't thrown really hard unless we are being cocky and saying that it doesn't work or that it was weak. ...
Just my opinion and this is not directed at Jessica. I don't see the value in proving to the cocky and squirmy that I can throw them really hard. If I can't get the technique I'm trying for or some reasonable other technique that uke's response gives me, then throwing a beginner harder, and likely unsafely, isn't what I want them to do with other beginners. It seems like the wrong thing to teach.

It's amusing how my techniques work on the people around my rank and not so well on the folks at the outer edges. I have to be on the very top of my game with absolute beginners and the senior people for anything to work.

Mark
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Old 09-26-2010, 07:36 PM   #25
JCT53
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Re: Not applying techniques to new students?

Quote:
Mark Gibbons wrote: View Post
Just my opinion and this is not directed at Jessica. I don't see the value in proving to the cocky and squirmy that I can throw them really hard. If I can't get the technique I'm trying for or some reasonable other technique that uke's response gives me, then throwing a beginner harder, and likely unsafely, isn't what I want them to do with other beginners. It seems like the wrong thing to teach.

It's amusing how my techniques work on the people around my rank and not so well on the folks at the outer edges. I have to be on the very top of my game with absolute beginners and the senior people for anything to work.

Mark
I put that wrong. As beginners we are not forced to take herd falls. But if we are being cocky, we have to take more falls than usual.

"Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment."
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