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Old 07-17-2002, 01:31 AM   #1
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 26
Aikido Curriculum for the beginner

How do different dojo approach teaching beginners? Or for that matter, students as a whole?

My background is Karate and I am used to having what I need to be working on being well defined. Work on this kata, work on these applications, etc. As I would meander through a kata, an instructor would come over and either say "what the heck was that" and give some feedback or give me a new sequence to work on if it looked like I was doing well with what I had.

So far in my Aikido dojo though, it's almost a matter of "Ok, do this" and we all do that. And the next class it's something different. I've only been going for a month now, but there hasn't been any concentrated effort to make sure that my stance is correct or to reinforce the various movements we try to do with the various techniques shown. If it weren't for the books I've bought, I'd still be referring to some of the techniques that I remember as "that wrist bend thing" and "the clothesline sort of one".

Is this almost laissez-faire, "throw it at them and see what sticks", approach to teaching common in Aikido?


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Old 07-17-2002, 02:26 AM   #2
Bronson's Avatar
Dojo: Seiwa Dojo and Southside Dojo
Location: Battle Creek & Kalamazoo, MI
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 1,677
Is this almost laissez-faire, "throw it at them and see what sticks", approach to teaching common in Aikido?
It seems to be around these parts. I like to think of it like the alphabet. One day sensei will explain "E". It doesn't make any sense because so far I've only learned "A" & "C". A couple of classes later he teaches "B", and the next class he teaches "D". At which point the students go "Hey now "E" makes sense!" Eventually we get the whole thing, just not in order. Not sure if it's the most efficient method but it's the one we've got


"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 07-17-2002, 05:44 AM   #3
Dojo: Aikido of Cincinnati/Huron Valley Aikikai
Location: Somerset Michigan
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 794
We have basics classes at our dojo, designed for beginner and senior student alike. In these classes, basic body movement is emphasized with focus on tenkan, irimi, and other entrances. We also spend a lot of time learning to take ukemi and practice front and back rolls. While there is no set "curriculum" for these classes, the teachers tend to work mostly on one technique (or again, just body movement) such as ikkyo, through the whole class, breaking it down from the start to the finish.

In general classes, it is whatever the teacher has decided to teach that day. I know that this can be intimidating for new students, but the senior students on the mat that day will always make sure to work with the newer students to that students pace and comfort level.
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Old 07-17-2002, 09:02 AM   #4
Dojo: Jiyushinkan
Location: Mesa, AZ
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 199
Dave Kenser wrote:
How do different dojo approach teaching beginners? Or for that matter, students as a whole?
I spent three years as a mudansha in an Aikikai dojo, and your experience sounds much like mine. I have trained the last four years in the Jiyushinkai, which follows the educational model established by Kano, and expounded upon by Tomiki and then Miyake. That is, we begin training with ukemi and a "tandoku" (solitary) kata designed to teach proper posture and movement. We then move into sotai (paired) training starting with a kata designed to teach connection and balance breaking. By combining elements of all three practices, we move onto the first real application kata and teach the beginner the first five techniques in that kata, atemi waza. After they have demonstrated competency in all the above, they are promoted and taught the next section, and so on and so on.

We continue to learn kata so that our "budo repetoire" expands, but we also complement the kata training with sotai randori, much akin to Judo or Shodokan Aikido, with the purpose being to apply what we know from kata and begin to develop intuitive applications. This becomes more a problem solving exercise than a fight to the death.

All-in-all, the time from a beginner's first class until they are participating in randori is anywhere from three to six months. We also practice drills and other applications, like multiple attack randori or tanto dori, but this is all based on the core curriculum described above.

Jim Vance
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Old 07-18-2002, 09:43 AM   #5
SeiserL's Avatar
Location: Florida Gulf coast
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 3,887
Agreed, Aikido instruction has not been (for me) the same strcutured curriculm that I got in the bashing arts. It frustrated me at first. Yet, IMHO, the curriculm is more consistent with the Aikido philosophy of flowing with your opponent. Trust your Sensei to know what to teach and when. Rather than question, train. I was surprised that there really was a structure and purpose to it all. I really had learned what I was supposed to learn. Now, I just show up, dress out, and do whatever I am told to for that day.

Until again,


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 07-23-2002, 07:26 AM   #6
Location: Somerville, MA
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 58
Looking at these threads as a Beginner, I'm finding that vocabluary must be as important as the techniques themselves. It is a bit overwhelming at times I feel but like all things familiarity will ease that.

"He who knows best knows how little he knows." -Thomas Jefferson
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