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Old 12-01-2002, 12:04 AM   #1
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AikiWeb Poll for the week of December 1, 2002:

Do you think teaching aikido is necessary in order to reach an advanced level in aikido?
  • I don't do aikido
  • Yes
  • No
Here are the current results.
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Old 12-01-2002, 03:06 AM   #2
siwilson
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Apart from the old saying - "To teach is to learn twice" - there are elements of Aikido that you never see until you begin teaching.

Aikido is a personal voyage, so you must find your own way and not be led around. Although you must remember that you cannot do this until you have attained a certain level. Before then you need to be led around. It tends to happen gradually and cannot be simply jumped in to.

Osu!
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Old 12-02-2002, 10:29 PM   #3
Chuck Clark
 
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I've heard many times over the years that there's a saying in Japanese that translates something like, "half of learning is teaching."

I get quite a bit of feedback from students that begin to teach others that this sentiment seems to come true for them.

I certainly have learned and continue to learn about aikido and many other things from my teaching.

I have also learned that part of the responsibility that goes along with moving up the rank scale is teaching and being an example for your juniors.

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org
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Old 12-03-2002, 02:07 AM   #4
Creature_of_the_id
 
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I voted no because I don't like the word necessary. I think the only thing that is necissary in reaching an advanced level of aikido, is training. Yes, teaching may be helpful... it may even speed up the time it takes to reach an advanced level. But I'm not sure I would say it was necessary.

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Old 12-03-2002, 09:08 AM   #5
MikeE
 
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Kevin,

I would have to disagree with you.

An advanced level of Aikido (if we are looking at the philosophy, as well as, the ability to toss someone to the floor) would also mean being an extremely effective communicator. I don't think you are going to get that as quickly without teaching and learning how to reach people and connect with people.

Even the uchi-deshi at Hombu during O'Sensei's time would teach. "Give me 3 yen and I'll teach you shihonage".

Just my humble opinion.

Mike Ellefson
Midwest Center
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Aikido Bukou
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Old 12-03-2002, 01:44 PM   #6
Kent Enfield
 
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I voted "no." I would have voted a large, resounding "No!" but that wasn't an option.

It seems to me that the onus is on the "yes" people to prove their side, due to the nature of the question. So, I ask those who voted yes (so far the overwhelming majority):

What items can you learn only by teaching aikido?

Why are those necessary to achieve "an advanced level" in aikido?

I do think that teaching certainly helps learning aikido, but I can't think of anything that you learn by teaching that is both necessary to a high level of skill (which is how I read "an advanced level") and impossible to learn any other way.

So far the two things suggested are responsibility and being an effective communicator. I don't think the first can only be learned through teaching. Being a higher level student should bring the same sort of need to be a model. For the latter, I don't think that it's part of being highly skilled in aikido or that it can only be learned by teaching.

Kentokuseisei
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Old 12-03-2002, 04:12 PM   #7
MikeE
 
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I can see Kent's point on the onus being on the resounding yes group to prove their point.

Let me see if I can help make things clearer.

IMHO, I think the people to ask would be the people with lets say at least 5 years of teaching experience, and 15 years of training in Aikido. What do they think.

Not taking anything from people with less experience, but, I think a teacher would be the only one qualified to answer this question.

Otherwise, its just bantering back and forth.

To defend my answer of "yes". I could easily say....If being an instructor isn't necessary to be a highly accomplished Aikidoka....Then why are all the highly accomplished Aikidoka instructors?

Mike Ellefson
Midwest Center
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Old 12-03-2002, 08:10 PM   #8
DaveO
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I voted 'Yes' and if I may, I'd like to answer Kent's good-hearted challenge:
Quote:
It seems to me that the onus is on the "yes" people to prove their side, due to the nature of the question.
like this:

(BTW - keep firmly in mind, I'm a beginner at Aikido; just got my 5th kyu, but I've been teaching for about 16 years now.)

Try this:

-Isolate one skill or range of skills which you consider to be your best. I.E. - if your Shihonage is what you're best at in Aikido, choose that.

-write down everything you know about that skill.

-videotape yourself performing that skill.

Now:

-Teach that skill for one week of classes - seven sessions; to give your students ample time to learn it to their level of proficiency, and to give yourself ample time to teach it.

Once you've done that:

-Write down everything you know about the technique again.

-Videotape yourself performing it again.

Now compare the before & after results - I'll bet you the outcome - if you have done a good job teaching - will be a marked increase in your performance of that skill.

The reason is that in order to teach something, we have to be prepared to break it down into its component parts for a student. We have to be able to analyze by watching errors they will make, and be able to effectively communicate correction to them. By doing this - i.e. by actually having to think about the technique in the third person - we provide the brain with another set of data to add to the knowledge we already have.

Also, in a less material sense, it helps by touching the psyche - we know that we as teachers are not dealing with the skill for our own sakes, but for the sake of others - the students. We want to give our best, so that they can learn the best.

Anyway, try the exercise I described above; I use it quite often when teaching Methods of Instruction. I'm positive I won't have to prove the point, you'll see it for yourself.

Thanks, friends!

Dave

Answers are only easy when they're incomplete.
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Old 12-04-2002, 04:51 AM   #9
siwilson
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Why "Yes"?

Quite simply, as a student you learn how to "do" Aikido, as a teacher you learn how to "understand" Aikido, and there is a huge difference.

Osu!
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Old 12-04-2002, 09:05 AM   #10
Bruce Baker
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After considering the surface of the question, then the actual results of those who begin to achieve the higher level of aikido, I would have to add this small point ....

You need to get out and practice other martial arts besides Aikido to achieve a high level of understanding for Aikido, as well as practical proficientcy beyond classroom practice.

I hate to beat the subject to death, but just as the classroom is the beginning of knowledge, you must eventually leave the classroom to go outside.

For those pessimists with the computer age recognition, you still need out side people to bring you things if you are inside, and they do connect you to the outside world as your emmissarys.

I guess we could depend on this type of mentality of waiting for things to be brought to us as we practice, but then ... each of us has our own rate of developement to consider, and sometimes waiting in a room in not enough.

So, as much as I agree that teaching aikido is necessary to gain a higher level of proficientcy, it is not always the simple teaching of other students, sometimes it is verifiying and adding to what you know by examining what the rest of the world has to offer.
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Old 12-04-2002, 09:09 AM   #11
Creature_of_the_id
 
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Hi Michael,

Thanks for the reply, and the disagreement

I now see why some people would vote yes... kinda...

I still disagree though.

you related an advanced level of aikido, including philosophy, to having extremely effective communication.

I would say that having good communication would not make you a more advanced aikidoka, but instead a more advanced teacher.

I still think that someone would be able to experience and incoroprate aikido in its entirity into their life, without necissarily being able to make it abstract and teach it.

Yes, being able to verbalise it and communicate it may help... but I think improving your ukemi is a better way of sharing aikido in its complete form than to try and explain it with words.

I still cant find the words or analogy to explain what I really mean...

but anyway
Quote:
Michael Ellefson (MikeE) wrote:
Kevin,

I would have to disagree with you.

An advanced level of Aikido (if we are looking at the philosophy, as well as, the ability to toss someone to the floor) would also mean being an extremely effective communicator. I don't think you are going to get that as quickly without teaching and learning how to reach people and connect with people.

Even the uchi-deshi at Hombu during O'Sensei's time would teach. "Give me 3 yen and I'll teach you shihonage".

Just my humble opinion.

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Old 12-04-2002, 09:33 AM   #12
akiy
 
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Hi Kev,

Just a quick question out of curiosity. Have you ever taught in any formal capacity?

-- Jun

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Old 12-04-2002, 09:48 AM   #13
siwilson
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Some thoughts...
Quote:
I still think that someone would be able to experience and incoroprate aikido in its entirity into their life, without necissarily being able to make it abstract and teach it.
Is the spread and sharing of Aikido not part of "Aikido in its entirity"?
Quote:
Yes, being able to verbalise it and communicate it may help... but I think improving your ukemi is a better way of sharing aikido in its complete form than to try and explain it with words.
Do you think teaching Aikido is purely verbal?

Osu!
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Old 12-04-2002, 02:12 PM   #14
Kent Enfield
 
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Quote:
Dave Organ (DaveO) wrote:
I voted 'Yes' and if I may, I'd like to answer Kent's good-hearted challenge: like this:

Thought experiment snipped
I agree that teaching something is usually quite helpful to learning. However, that's not the question that was posed. The question, as asked, is whether or not teaching is necessary. To counter the example Dave gave, yes teaching shiho nage can make you better at shiho nage, but you can also get better at shiho nage just by practicing it yourself, even if it might take longer.

Kentokuseisei
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Old 12-04-2002, 09:41 PM   #15
MikeE
 
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Kev,

Do you think that leading by example is a form of teaching...or is the art strictly for the betterment of oneself?

In Aiki,

Mike Ellefson
Midwest Center
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Aikido Bukou
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Old 12-05-2002, 04:04 AM   #16
happysod
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I'm with Kent Enfield, had to go with the "No" vote because of the way the question was posed.

Also, the "yes" votes seem to presume that everyone has good communication skills and would find teaching an aid to their own technique. I've met some very good aikidokas who were absolutely atrocious teachers and didn't seem comfortable doing it either. Leaving aside the obvious "it's helping them confront their fears of teaching - thus their spirit" lark, I'm unsure how valuable it would be to their own learning of aikido.

I agree having to teach anything helps you learn it, but I don't think it's necessary.
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Old 12-05-2002, 06:22 AM   #17
DaveO
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Hello, again!

The 'No's that have posted have all made very good points; I think it's just a question of some variation in the interpretation of 'necessary'. My interpretation is as I described it in my first post, plus the fact that I personally believe (I stress that - this is only my own personal belief here) that once one achieves a certain level of experience in a particular field, it becomes a moral responsibility to pass that knowledge on to a new generation of practicioners. Case in point from my own history: A young soldier joins the Army, stumbles his way through Basic Training, Battleschool and Regimental training. He is taught by his superiors - Master Corporals and Sergeants who pass on to him their knowledge in bits and pieces. Along the way, he becomes experienced; serves overseas, gains rank. He has become the type of veteran he once learned from. It now becomes part of his responsibility - heck, his right, to take newcomers under his wing, to train them. To do otherwise - to hold himself aloof from young soldiers - would be shirking his moral duty to pass his knowledge on. Teaching is another rite of passage and more; until he chooses to take it on, he will not advance much farther, since he won't accept the responsibility required to advance.

I personally believe it's the same in Aikido, or Karate, or acting, cooking, science or any other field you wish to name.

Anyway, that's my response, in my own interpretation of the question. I am admittedly and unashamedly biased on the matter, teaching's 'my thang', as they say.

Thanks, folks!

Dave

P.S. - Kent; in your quote (thanks for responding, BTW), you put in the line 'thought experiment snipped'.

No probs with snipping it, of course, no need to repeat it, but I must emphasize it's not a thought experiment - it's a very real and valuable training technique used to show new teacher just how valuable their job is. Like I said; try it; you'll be amazed how well it works.

Answers are only easy when they're incomplete.
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Old 12-05-2002, 06:47 AM   #18
Creature_of_the_id
 
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Quote:
Jun Akiyama (akiy) wrote:
Hi Kev,

Just a quick question out of curiosity. Have you ever taught in any formal capacity?

-- Jun
Yep

I teach aikido

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Old 12-05-2002, 07:05 AM   #19
Creature_of_the_id
 
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Quote:
Michael Ellefson (MikeE) wrote:
Kev,

Do you think that leading by example is a form of teaching...or is the art strictly for the betterment of oneself?

In Aiki,
I think leading by example is the best form of teaching.

But my interpretation of the poll question was 'formal teaching'. As teaching by example is unavoidable

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Old 12-05-2002, 09:14 AM   #20
Ta Kung
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I voted yes, but I'm not so sure now... Maybe it's not necessary to teach, but I do think it helps speed up your skill dramaticly.

The best practise I get, is when practising with rookies. They ask the strangest things, and you really have to think twice about what you're actually doing during the technique, and why you're doing it. Great help both for the newbie and myself!

/Patrik
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Old 12-05-2002, 03:19 PM   #21
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I voted yes, but I didn't take teaching to be in any formal capacity out in front of a specific class. I'm ranked 3rd kyu with three and half years of training, I help teach in the kid's classes and help out the newbies by teaching things like hanmi and rolls. I really have found that in teaching I discover how much aikido I know or don't know for that matter. I'm barely an advanced practitioner but I don't see how one can avoid seeing that helping a less skilled partner improves your own skills.

As to the "necessary" part, yes it is. I see teaching and learning as opposite sides of the same coin. You can't have one without the other. In order to learn more deeply you need to know how to teach, and to teach more effectively you need to know how to learn.

Anne Marie Giri
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