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Old 10-29-2011, 02:59 PM   #1
Dave de Vos
 
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Taking notes?

I was wondering, do you take notes of classes?

I am a beginner, started september 2010.

Last week I was thinking, we are taught many things in a lesson and up to now, when my teacher explains something, I'm thinking: ok, that's good to know, I'll remember that. But when my teacher reminds us of the same issue a month or so later, I realize I forgot.

How do you remember all the details? Last monday after class, I made a list of the waza we did in the lesson and I did the same last thursday, but I think it might not be enough to remember the details in the long run. There's just so much to remember.

Is it any use to take notes? Or is it just a matter of being reminded of things until you don't forget anymore?

Last edited by Dave de Vos : 10-29-2011 at 03:09 PM.
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Old 10-29-2011, 03:59 PM   #2
Janet Rosen
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Re: Taking notes?

Everyone learns differently.
I would never have learned weapons kata w/o scribbling notes step by step

Janet Rosen
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Old 10-29-2011, 04:12 PM   #3
Mario Tobias
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Re: Taking notes?

it's good to keep a training journal. it just takes less than 10 minutes per day to update. consider it part of your training.
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Old 10-29-2011, 05:38 PM   #4
Michael Hackett
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Re: Taking notes?

Yes, taking notes can be very valuable to you, particularly in weapons work.

Michael
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Old 10-29-2011, 07:08 PM   #5
lbb
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Re: Taking notes?

It depends on what you mean by "a technique". Are you talking about (for example) ikkyo, or are you talking about a combination of attack and waza, for example shomenuchi ikkyo?

In my experience in teaching various physical skills, I've found that most (not all) people learn best by means of a teaching progression of some kind. Most senseis don't teach this way, but if you know how, you can create a progression for yourself.
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Old 10-29-2011, 07:22 PM   #6
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Taking notes?

Hello,

In all my years of aikido, I have taken extensive notes just twice. The first time was at a summer training camp in the USA in 1981 (I think) given by Morihiro Saito Sensei. There was so much information input that I went through an entire notebook. I still have the notes and sometimes use them for comparing what he did later, in the 'lost seminars', for example.

The second time was at the first intensive seminar I attended with Hiroshi Tada. Tada Sensei does extensive breathing and body exercises and you need to know the correct sequence and method.

In your case, I think you need body education, rather than written notes. Ruud is a student of Shimamoto Shihan, whose aikido is distinctive and difficult to imitate.

Best wishes,

P Goldsbury

Quote:
Dave de Vos wrote: View Post
I was wondering, do you take notes of classes?

I am a beginner, started september 2010.

Last week I was thinking, we are taught many things in a lesson and up to now, when my teacher explains something, I'm thinking: ok, that's good to know, I'll remember that. But when my teacher reminds us of the same issue a month or so later, I realize I forgot.

How do you remember all the details? Last monday after class, I made a list of the waza we did in the lesson and I did the same last thursday, but I think it might not be enough to remember the details in the long run. There's just so much to remember.

Is it any use to take notes? Or is it just a matter of being reminded of things until you don't forget anymore?

P A Goldsbury
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Old 10-29-2011, 09:24 PM   #7
kewms
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Re: Taking notes?

Quote:
Mario Tobias wrote: View Post
it's good to keep a training journal. it just takes less than 10 minutes per day to update. consider it part of your training.
This. For years, well beyond the beginner stage, I never took notes about aikido classes.

Then I started keeping a training journal for another activity. I soon discovered it was invaluable for tracking how I felt, monitoring the cause and evolution of minor injuries and soreness, the effectiveness of my training program over time...

Not being completely incapable of learning from experience, I've started keeping an aikido journal. It's already proven especially useful in helping me tie the threads from different classes and different teachers together.

What should go in such notes? That's entirely up to you, and will probably change as you get more experienced. Think of it as something like a lab notebook: record what you tried, what you expected to happen, what actually happened, and what you learned from the experience.

Katherine
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Old 10-30-2011, 03:36 AM   #8
Dave de Vos
 
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Re: Taking notes?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
It depends on what you mean by "a technique". Are you talking about (for example) ikkyo, or are you talking about a combination of attack and waza, for example shomenuchi ikkyo?
This is what I wrote down after class on monday as a reminder of what we did:

(suwari waza) ryo kata dori ikkyo omote & ura
yodan tsuki ikkyo
yokomen uchi ude kime nage omote
kosa dori uchi kaiten nage
chudan tsuki ude kime nage
chudan tsuki hiji kime
(tachi dori) shomen uchi sankyo

I didn't note details, but perhaps I should (like with chudan tsuki hiji kime, at the end of my tenkan, the palm of my hand should be more or less on the back of uke's fist, if I recollect correctly)
But then my notes might become so verbose that I'll never be able to find anything back.

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
In my experience in teaching various physical skills, I've found that most (not all) people learn best by means of a teaching progression of some kind. Most senseis don't teach this way, but if you know how, you can create a progression for yourself.
Yes, I think my teachers do that. Often we do a couple of related exercises in sequence. Like first we do some exercises to train the initial body movement, atemi, kuzushi and then we train some techniques than can follow from this general beginning. That helps a lot to learn and it also stresses that these initial movements are at least as important as the technique itself, that we should not rush to do the technique without first moving properly.

The thing is, that these movements are usually not in the names of the exercises. For instance chudan tsuki hiji kime, it describes the initial attack and the final technique, but the most important part, the movement between the attack and the technique, is not in the name. How to remember that part? I almost wish we had a camera recording the lessons to capture that part, because it is hard for me do describe all the movement.

Is it a matter op practising in class until all of this becomes a second nature so that when uke attacks with chudan tsuki you instantly know how to move and while you move you think, "hey we're going to end up in a position were I could do hiji kime" and then instantly you know how to continue to apply it?
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Old 10-30-2011, 03:51 AM   #9
Dave de Vos
 
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Re: Taking notes?

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
In your case, I think you need body education, rather than written notes. Ruud is a student of Shimamoto Shihan, whose aikido is distinctive and difficult to imitate.
I don't know much about aikido other than what is taught in Ruud's dojos, so I can't really compare, but I think I understand what you mean.
You're probably right that body education is the only way to learn it. But as my body is a slow learner, I was hoping that somehow I could help my body with my mind's learning capabilities.

P.S. Thank you for your seminar in Tilburg last March. I enjoyed it.
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Old 10-30-2011, 03:59 AM   #10
Dave de Vos
 
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Re: Taking notes?

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
Everyone learns differently.
I would never have learned weapons kata w/o scribbling notes step by step
Quote:
Mario Tobias wrote: View Post
it's good to keep a training journal. it just takes less than 10 minutes per day to update. consider it part of your training.
Quote:
Michael Hackett wrote: View Post
Yes, taking notes can be very valuable to you, particularly in weapons work.
Quote:
Katherine Derbyshire wrote: View Post
Not being completely incapable of learning from experience, I've started keeping an aikido journal. It's already proven especially useful in helping me tie the threads from different classes and different teachers together.

What should go in such notes? That's entirely up to you, and will probably change as you get more experienced. Think of it as something like a lab notebook: record what you tried, what you expected to happen, what actually happened, and what you learned from the experience.
Thanks for the advice. I think I'll experiment a bit with what kind of notes work best for me now.
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Old 10-30-2011, 04:52 AM   #11
Eva Antonia
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Re: Taking notes?

Hello,

when I started with aikido I also thought that it might be useful to make notes and especially drawings of footwork etc. But I never did it because I started remembering names, explanations and all sorts of theoretic things much quicker than I gained ability to implement this knowledge.

So in theory I know perfectly well how to perform a really efficient irimi nage (ikkyo, kaiten nage....whatever) on attack XYZ. Nothing to add in written which I wouldn't already know. BUT....how come that in practice it still fails more often than not?

People have different ways how to learn. I am slow with assimilating movements with my body, with getting this sort of automatic reaction , with using my hips without having to think that I now should make a 45 ° movement towards uke etc. So if you're far better with theory than with practice, I fear notes help near to nothing. But if you belong to those whose body is naturally gifted but who lack the comprehension of the concept behind, maybe it's exactly the opposite. And then there are those who learn both with the body and the mind...

Wishing you much luck, success and pleasure,

Eva
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Old 10-30-2011, 08:38 AM   #12
Lyle Laizure
 
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Re: Taking notes?

Notes can be invaluable. When the sensei starts talking it is nice to have a notebook handy or if there is a particular technique that requires specific footwork I will make notes about it. I didn't start taking note for Aikido until I had been training for over a decade. In retrospect I might could have improved quicker or at the very least not looked like an idiot so much had I taken notes sooner.

Lyle Laizure
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Old 10-30-2011, 12:24 PM   #13
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Re: Taking notes?

Do what works best for you. If you think taking notes might help then take notes. Maybe you will find it useful maybe you won't.

I usually share what I worked on with my Facebook friends after a class as a sort of review; but taking notes during a class to me is just too cumbersome and not useful.
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Old 10-30-2011, 12:47 PM   #14
Dave de Vos
 
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Re: Taking notes?

I was thinking about notes after class, at home. During class there is usually no time, sensei showing the technique takes only a minute or two. I wouldn't want to keep my training partner waiting while I'm taking notes.
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Old 10-30-2011, 02:02 PM   #15
Hanna B
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Re: Taking notes?

I have tried making notes after class but it never really worked out for me. Nowadays I sometimes write notes after class if I think the material was especifically valuable to me, but usually not.

I blog about my training, though. Blogging is different from having a private journal in that you are writing for others, and in my blog I write mostly about other things than "last class we did these techniques, and these are points I should remember". It's more of reflections, like "We have done lots of Y lately, I wonder if we will be getting back to X again before winter is over or if we will continue to other things." "My ukemi has improved but not as fast as I'd like. I wonder if I should work specifically to improve my ukemi - I just don't know how! and sometimes problems get solved just by continous training, even om other stuff than your actual point of struggle." "My positions are still to narrow, but not to the extent it was a year ago." If I write about the atual class content I try to make more of an overall description of class content than the actual techniques. In doing this I have to recapitulate class and also analyse it, to some extent. I imagine it actually does have some value in my learning.

When I take training notes, I mostly put them on my blog just to keep them somewhere - and when I do that, I've noticed that those notes become much better written than if I wrote them with the intention to keep them private. When I write so that others can understand, not just myself, then I actually understand what I meant two years later. That's a major problem with training notes, IMHO. Writing so that you actually understand them later. I know of someone who spent a year at the Aikikai Hombu and faithfully took notes of every class, that he nowadays hardly understands at all.

You're not yet very advanced, and you're probably somewhat overwhelmed by the material presented to you. If you keep training, that will get better over time. I really don't think anyone expects you to remember everything. If your class is mixed levels, where some people have been training for many years, you are probably not expected to grasp and remember everything. Some stuff you probably should just float pass, without much focus on memorising details.

The most common reason to dropping out from taking training notes is probably overdoing it from the start. One possible version would be to take notes of stuff the second time your teacher brings it up. Those things should be somewhat more important than the rest, probably. Or perhaps to take notes of three things from each class, but no more than that.

Having the notes in a searchable i.e. electronic format is preferrable, IMHO.

Last edited by Hanna B : 10-30-2011 at 02:05 PM.
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Old 10-30-2011, 05:01 PM   #16
TimB99
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Re: Taking notes?

Yes I take notes.. Not during class, though. After class I usually try to "re-live" the things we've done and I scribble down anything I think was important. The process of taking notes in detail itself facilitates that process of re-living, in my experience, with nearly each new piece of information leading into a 'oh, right! and then came this and this'.

And whatever doesn't come then, comes in the many many times afterwards spent thinking about aikido anyways (yes, I'm one of them aikido nutters )
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Old 10-30-2011, 08:42 PM   #17
lbb
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Re: Taking notes?

Quote:
Dave de Vos wrote: View Post
The thing is, that these movements are usually not in the names of the exercises. For instance chudan tsuki hiji kime, it describes the initial attack and the final technique, but the most important part, the movement between the attack and the technique, is not in the name. How to remember that part? I almost wish we had a camera recording the lessons to capture that part, because it is hard for me do describe all the movement.
But even if you had a camera, it wouldn't do what you want. I suspect that for any initial-attack-and-final-technique name combo (for lack of a better term) you can name, there are multiple variations -- sometimes many, many variations. If you capture a video version, that's just one acceptable way to do it. So now you think you "know" that technique, and then you go to class, and sensei says that technique name...and proceeds to do something that looks radically different to you. Oops.

By way of an analogy -- I heard a story once that when American GIs went to Korea and took Korean language classes, they were taught hangul (the Korean system of writing) in a way that makes it extremely difficult to learn. Hangul is a phonetic alphabet, one letter per sound, but it was being taught to American GIs not as an alphabet -- here's this letter, it makes this sound -- but as syllables. So, they were taught to write "gan", "dan", "san", etc. -- they had to learn all these syllables instead of a relatively small number of letters that could be combined according to a few simple rules (I have a theory that this is because of the Japanese imperialist era in Korea and the fact that the closest Japanese equivalent to hangul is hiragana, which is a syllabary rather than an alphabet...but I digress).

It seems like you're trying to do something similar here -- that is, to learn "chudan tsuki hiji kime" as one conceptual blob. You can learn aikido techniques that way, but it's like learning to write "gan" in hangul -- you can write "gan" but you can't write anything else. To go beyond a rote learning of a very specific instance of a technique -- not a waza, but just one instance of one -- you need to look at the components that make it up.

And, as you say, there's always the part in between the attack and the "final technique", which isn't articulated at all in the technique name. So what is that? Well...it's the opening, and what you do with it, and when you do it. Your initial response to the attack, your body movement and your timing, creates an opening -- some opening. So, what openings can you create from chudan tsuki? How can you move, what can you do to get there? If the attack is chudan tsuki, what are the ways you can move to create the opening that will allow you to get to hiji kime?

Quote:
Dave de Vos wrote: View Post
Is it a matter op practising in class until all of this becomes a second nature so that when uke attacks with chudan tsuki you instantly know how to move and while you move you think, "hey we're going to end up in a position were I could do hiji kime" and then instantly you know how to continue to apply it?
Well, of course it's a matter of practicing, and there isn't any method or magic bullet that's going to get you there faster (although there are a lot of ways you can slow yourself down). Personally, I think that phrases like "second nature" are misleading, but that's just me. It all sounds a wee bit too mystical. I think the truth is that with practice, you get to be less reactive, and you can see more things happening, and then with more practice, you can actually do something with it.
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Old 10-30-2011, 09:04 PM   #18
RED
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Re: Taking notes?

In my opinion, whatever works for you. I can't take notes, not how I learn movements. I'm a physical learner; got to do something repetitively under the instruction of a high ranked Aikidoka. That's what works for me. Trying to write down what I think a sensei meant after they said it never works for me. Just got to do as they say repetitively until I "get" what they were saying. I'm not much for intellectualizing I guess... more for just doing.

MM
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Old 10-31-2011, 01:12 AM   #19
Mario Tobias
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Re: Taking notes?

You can also try first taking notes by watching the techniques on youtube.

I especially like saito sensei's series, endo sensei and yamada sensei's exam pointers.

The thing is no matter how many times you repeat and repeat the exact same clip, you'll observe something different everytime. There's just too much information to take in. The devil is in the details.

Is it palm up, palm down? tenkai or tenkan? how's the footwork like and how do you get to that position? how many variations are there? how do you take kuzushi from that attack? what is the technique called?

The process of keen observation will accelerate your knowledge. It's not the notes per se but the process of taking notes that's important because it hones your observation and memory skills.

Last edited by Mario Tobias : 10-31-2011 at 01:14 AM.
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Old 10-31-2011, 01:16 AM   #20
Hanna B
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Re: Taking notes?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
It seems like you're trying to do something similar here -- that is, to learn "chudan tsuki hiji kime" as one conceptual blob. You can learn aikido techniques that way, but it's like learning to write "gan" in hangul -- you can write "gan" but you can't write anything else. To go beyond a rote learning of a very specific instance of a technique -- not a waza, but just one instance of one -- you need to look at the components that make it up.
And those components the tread starter might not yet see.

One way of taking notes would be noticing similarities between different techniques, to break it down in pieces. Some of these pieces might have specific names, others won't (or your teacher don't use them). You can invent your own, of course. Like "the duck" or "zipper step" or whatever.

A lecture in university is meant to be your level, usually. You shouldn't write everything down but sort the most important stuff out, but that's usually not that difficult - after a lecture, you are expected to have understood most of what the lecturer said. Aikido classes usually aren't that way, especially not if taught in mixed level group. Some of the teaching is probably way above your level - some of the techniques probably are, and some of the details taught in the simpler techniques as well. If chudan tsuki hiji kime is confusing to you - let go. (I don't know what that is, btw. I know about hiji kime osae, from various attacks, not sure if that's what you are referring to. In most systems that would not be considered one of the most basic techniques. Not something you are expected to remember and perform well after your first year.)

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
In my experience in teaching various physical skills, I've found that most (not all) people learn best by means of a teaching progression of some kind. Most senseis don't teach this way, but if you know how, you can create a progression for yourself.
I'm not 100% sure what you mean by this. But if you mean that you teach one thing one class, and the next class builds on it, and the whole class should basically understand all the material - no, that's not how budo is usually taught. And that's tough for us, since we expect something different.

I like the mixed class concept. One of the consequences is that the people in class will be working on different things, depending on their level, although the techniques are the same. So one might be concentrating on foot position and another on timing, and a third one on memorising techniques as sequences. I don't agree that's a waste of time - not necessarily. If you know one sequence, you can see pieces of it in other techniques. But if so, pick just one sequence each class or you'll be completely overwhelmed. If you grok one new thing every class, that's good enough - really, it is, since

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
In your case, I think you need body education, rather than written notes. Ruud is a student of Shimamoto Shihan, whose aikido is distinctive and difficult to imitate.
I know nothing about your teacher (which Peter Goldsbury apparently does) but agree that most of your learning is in your body, not in your mind. Learning motor skills does not work quite the same way as learning intellectual stuff. You are working on timing, on foot placement, on body angles, on kuzushi, on [long list] all the time, most of which you are unaware. And that's more important than the actual techniques. I know it doesn't seem like that in the beginning, and the "grading syllabus" thing sure helps in obscuring that fact. The most important thing in a specific class might be a way of leaning forward, or keeping completely upright position, or tilting the pelvis, or timing your breath with your movement. Being too obsessed with "learning techniques" makes those things more difficult to notice. OTOH I think that's a stage most people will go through.

I have one more suggestion for you. Ask your teacher if you think it is a good idea to take notes - and if so, what things he would expect or suggest someone your level to put in your notes. His idea of that might not match yours completely.

Focus is good. But what if one focuses on the wrong things?

"Patience, young padawan."
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Old 10-31-2011, 03:28 AM   #21
Tim Ruijs
 
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Re: Taking notes?

Hi Dave

In the past I too have had the urge to take notes. I have tried, but in the end my notes could never quite capture the essence. Off course two weeks, a month later it still made some sense, but after a couple of months... I have learned to trust my body to remember the technique (and recognise it in the future when it reappears in class). Thing is that when you practise intensively your focal point shifts all the time, so what is 'important' to you now probably is not after a few months (or even weeks or classes!). Only after a longer period of practise you will start to see repetition of patterns in techniques (which makes it easier to understand and remember). Also you will find key principles.
Try not to remember thousands of techniques but rather the handful of principles they originated from.

In a real fight:
* If you make a bad decision, you die.
* If you don't decide anything, you die.
Aikido teaches you how to decide.
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Old 10-31-2011, 04:56 AM   #22
SeiserL
 
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Re: Taking notes?

I am a note taker and list maker.
Helps me access "student" learning mode.
Physical technical details, too many.
Process and principles, always the same.
Whatever it takes to forward the learning process.
Shoshin not Mushin.

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 10-31-2011, 09:11 AM   #23
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Re: Taking notes?

Quote:
Hanna Björk wrote: View Post
I'm not 100% sure what you mean by this. But if you mean that you teach one thing one class, and the next class builds on it, and the whole class should basically understand all the material - no, that's not how budo is usually taught. And that's tough for us, since we expect something different.
That's not exactly what I mean by a progression. What I mean is that you don't start off by trying to teach the whole technique. For example, if you want to teach a forward roll, rather than starting by having everyone stand up and give it a go, you might start by having everyone sit on the floor and practice rocking back and forth, side to side, around in a circle, then progressing to rolling backwards up onto one shoulder and back down, then progressing to rolling backwards over that shoulder, and then progressing to rolling backwards over that shoulder, holding a three-point stance, and then reversing the motion to come back forward.

To my mind, an effective teaching progression has two central characteristics. First, it is progressive. It breaks down the progress of skill acquisition in a way that is more conducive to success, since each successive step builds on the previous one and reinforces the value of that sub-skill. Each step or sub-skill can be mastered in turn and can provide a "resting place" -- if that's all you get done today, okay, you come back to the next class, move fairly rapidly through the progression, and are ready to move on.

Second, an effective teaching progression is adaptable. A good teacher doesn't just check off the steps of their teaching progression -- at every step, they watch the students to see how well this step is working. If a student seems stuck at a particular step, you throw it out and substitute something that will work. Thus, there is no "teaching progression for forward roll" -- there's a bag of tricks and an awareness of how you can string them together.

Is this how budo is typically taught? No, but then, it's not how anything is typically taught, except in the few fields that put a real emphasis on teaching or coaching skills.
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Old 10-31-2011, 11:13 AM   #24
kewms
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Re: Taking notes?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Is this how budo is typically taught? No, but then, it's not how anything is typically taught, except in the few fields that put a real emphasis on teaching or coaching skills.
I think gymnastics are usually taught this way. The more basic skills serve to build strength and coordination for the more advanced skills.

Katherine
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Old 10-31-2011, 11:31 AM   #25
chris wright
 
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Re: Taking notes?

Hi Dave, like others have said different people have different methods for learning, for me i found writing notes whilst at college really got me through my courses and exams - this approach seemed to help my Aikido.
I keep a lesson training diary (9yrs and counting - 3 times a week) and a separate A4 spiral folder with sketches and notes in.
I've found this excellent revision for grade exams, and also helps with lesson structure and planning if i have to step in for Sensei.
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