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Old 12-23-2002, 02:06 PM   #26
Choku Tsuki
 
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Quote:
Jun wrote:
What sort of teaching and/or thoughts can we provide to the student to allow him to realize himself that he's making these kinds of mistakes so he can try to fix it himself?
Thoughts are good if they instead lead to an appropriate example to provide.

So, they rush through a technique to get to the end and they're a little off balance. Balance and center have to be maintained throughout is the thought. Impart that by being uke and grab their sleeve underneath and hang on after the throw. They will learn 'why' faster by discovering for themselves. Maybe they'll also see why lowering their center is good too. How they store this info is up to them.

I could have just said "Show them the consequences" of mistakes. Nothing more immediate than cause/effect.

--Chuck
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Old 12-24-2002, 04:56 AM   #27
Peter Goldsbury
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One analogy with learning aikido which strikes me ever more forcefully each time I think about it is learning a foreign language, especially a language like Japanese, where the grammar is relatively simple, usage is very difficult and the writing system is positively diabolical.

The analogy holds in this respect, that both are complex skills of which the aim is production, effortlessly and without any 'meta-thinking'. There is no point in learning a living foreign language unless you can deploy the skills immediately in meaningful written or spoken communication with native speakers. The analogy fails in one respect: there are no 'native speakers' of aikido (except perhaps for the Founder and his successors?) but I think everyone has an image of what he/she is working towards, usually embodied in a high-ranking shihan.

I think with language learning there is definitely a stage where learning how to learn becomes vital, but not at the very beginning. At the beginning you need to acquire a knowledge of the basic structures of the language and the process of doing this is different from the later stage, where you have acquired a mental map and are in a position to direct your own progress to some extent. Learning kanji, for example, definitely requires a learning method: it will not do to approach kanji as one would Latin verbs.

Language learning, of course, has all the joys and frustrations of aikido. There are the times when native speakers are oblivious of the fact that you are a foreigner: in aikido this is perhaps like throwing your instructor and he/she accepts this as nothing unusual. Then there are times when you have just uttered the 'perfect' sentence and everyone nods politely, not having the slightest clue of what you are talking about: in aikido the instrctor comes and looks at your technique and cannot even figure out what you are doing, let alone trying to do.

It takes time to progress from learning to learning how to learn and different learners might conceive the details of this latter stage differently. For me a crucial component of learning how to learn was to develop a mental map of all the core movements and techniques, against which I could 'read off' the different ways of executing these, as learned over the years from a large number of instructors.

This process, of course, is still at the SHU stage of SHU-HA-RI.

Best regards,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 12-24-2002 at 05:02 AM.

P A Goldsbury
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Old 12-28-2002, 12:47 AM   #28
PhilJ
 
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Opher Donchin (opherdonchin) wrote:
I'm becoming interested in the flip side of this question. That is, can any of us point to experiences that really helped us 'learn how to learn' aikido?
Great point, Opher. I absolutely have to come out and take ukemi for you now, I'm convinced.

There are two significant situations I can think of, right off, for me: 1) times when something had profound impact, and 2) times when my frustration gave way to relaxation.

I don't have a guess at a formula for making a "profound impact", but I'd wager the formula involves relative values of the student experiencing the training. Interests, hobbies, occupations all fall there: if you strike a chord in those areas, it helps the student obtain a useful, relative perspective. I'm sure there's more.

The frustration piece is rougher and requires a patient sensei. To bring a calm realization out of frustration borne from tough technique or "inability" to grasp a concept, I think that makes a big mark in the noggin. It reminds me of a little bit of Phil-Zen, where we ask "How many different ways are there to get to our dojo?" Same question for teaching or dealing with an attack. A diligent instructor will keep trying different ways until something in the student clicks.

The student will often need great help to break past the brick wall s/he's created, but even the Great Wall could be climbed over, or altogether walked around, eh?

*Phil

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Old 12-28-2002, 07:48 PM   #29
opherdonchin
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2) times when my frustration gave way to relaxation.
I'd say, also, that this played (plays) a big role in my own learning and seems to play a role in the learning of people I work with. As a teacher, it's very hard to tell how much 'frustration' is good for a student. I mean, I don't always have control over that, but I often wonder if my uke is too frustrating or difficult for people.

Oh, and thanks for the compliment. Our dojo is very welcoming if you ever get down to Baltimore, but there are plenty of people there who are much more inspiring to uke for than I am.

Yours in Aiki
Opher
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Old 08-09-2004, 09:15 AM   #30
Jim Saba
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Re: Learning How to Learn Aikido(reply Saba )

Good Day ,

This is a good question.Dr. Drysdale and I have had this conversation in the past. You have the right idea, it is the ability to learn how to learn.

People learn in different ways. Some people learn by seeing. Others learn by feeling. Still, others learn by listening. I think that ultimately it is a combination of all three really;. although, some people do seem to have a predisposition to one or the other. People also have a predisposition to how well they learn technical information as apposed to just memorizing information.

I have heard some people claim that in order to learn a complex technical task, the frequencies are some where around 5000 times . I did some checking on this from a friend of mine who knows a bit about the research in this area, and he said that he did not know of any substantial data that support this hypothesis.

In reality , there probably is no magic number as that hypothesis suggests.

Probably the best approach is to try to teach at the level that your given for a particular group. The truth is you have to give a little to get a little.

In my classes, the majority of the time, I do not teach to a wide audience. Most, if not all of them , are composed of first year aikido students, so I am teaching pretty much to a one dimensional audience. Depending on the audience of course, I try to give something for everyone to ponder.I also try to make sure that environment is a relaxed one. I like for people to feel comfortable in class. I don't like instructors who talk at their audience. I also don't like those people who give off an air that says that their presents is so important that you should be glad that they decided to show up that day.

My main goal is to try to reach people on a personnel level, and I hope that they can take something out of my class that they can use in their daily lives in some way.


There are certain concerns to consider. One of them is can I hold people's attention long enough to get the point across. Another one is can I keep things interesting so that people will not get bored. Third, are people being motivated significantly to improve over the long term. And forth, is the information accurate and does it have validity

Thanks

J Saba
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Old 08-09-2004, 12:09 PM   #31
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: Learning How to Learn Aikido

Hi everyone,
first time to post here. I'm a music (recorder & traverso aka baroque flute) and Alexander technique (see: stat.org.uk) teacher, so this discussion on teaching caught my eye.
I occasionally lead an aikido class as well. Just took my ikkyu test couple of months ago.

As I see it there are a few different things you need to learn to learn in an aikido class, some more critical than others. For instance, you need to learn how to watch a demonstration of a technique and to make enough sense of it to be able to practice _something_. I tell people to first watch the footwork, and if they can't remember the whole technique, to try and remember the first movement and to practice that first. Plus when people start to see the patterns of basic tai sabaki (irimi, tenkan etc. ) and how the techniques consist of combinations of those, that helps with remembering the techniques as well. I think people pick up this kind of strategies from each other and the more senior students, too.

As to making people more aware of what they are doing, which I think is critical to really improving, I don't think there's anything as effective as direct feedback. "Can you feel that you're tensing your arm as you turn? Try again. Yep, still doing it. Once more. That was different, did you notice?" It takes time in the beginning, but after a while people start to observe themselves more carefully and then it's easier.

I think it's also important to get people to really stop and take time and slow down to give themselves a chance to see and feel and taste and hear what is going on. I think a short simple meditation in the beginning of class helps with that. Sometimes, when someone keeps doing the same mistake over and over again, I ask them to stop completely and to make a clear decision about what they are going to do next. That almost always helps.

As you can see, I'm not fond of indirect methods of teaching.

The most difficult thing I find, probably because I'm not that experienced yet, is how to show people what a technique really means. I find people tend to skip parts of techniques and to forget important details, or put themselves in a dangerous position relative to uke for example, and I think it's because they are doing technique on a surface level without understanding what they are doing. Or sometimes even caring... Still I think it's the same story: direct feedback, and getting people to be aware of uke's balance and their own and the relationship between the two etc.

well, my two eurocents worth, off to the park to train now (dojo is closed in August)

kvaak
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Old 08-10-2004, 12:23 AM   #32
Lyle Laizure
 
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Re: Learning How to Learn Aikido

Teaching someone how to learn? That is an interesting way of looking at it. Everyone learns, generally speaking, in the same manner. The difference between one or another is they way they receive the message. Sometimes when one is teaching it has to be explained from several angles so that everyone within the dojo can be touched.

Lyle Laizure
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Old 08-10-2004, 02:21 AM   #33
philipsmith
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Re: Learning How to Learn Aikido

Quote:
Lyle Laizure wrote:
Teaching someone how to learn? That is an interesting way of looking at it. Everyone learns, generally speaking, in the same manner. The difference between one or another is they way they receive the message. Sometimes when one is teaching it has to be explained from several angles so that everyone within the dojo can be touched.

Actually this isnt true. As both an Aikido and professional teacher (college lecturer) I know that people will learn in different ways.

The three basics learning styles are:

auditory by listening
visual by seeing
kinesthetic by doing.

Most sports people (including Aikidoka) learn kinesthetically with elements of the other styles being thrown in. The problem is that traditionally Aikido is taught purely by demonstration.
I believe that as teachers it is our duty to enable students to acquire skill and devewlop rather than just "showing & telling" as I see so many Aikido teachers (and a lot of Shihan) do.

My advice look at other sports coaches, do a basic teaching/coaching qualification and try to think out of the AIkido box.
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Old 08-11-2004, 10:33 PM   #34
Lan Powers
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Re: Learning How to Learn Aikido

Interesting that this topic has risen from the archives. A while back a partner of mine in training as well as close friend and myself discussed this issue and posted along these lines .
Our comment/ or question was does your Sensei teach "just Aikido" or does he effectively teach "how to learn" as well.

Neat
At the time, neither of us had ever seen this thread, and it is very interesting to catch all these posts.

It seems to me that learning to learn is almost an indescribable thing. I am VERY visually oriented, but in class, I often learn more by closing my eyes and feeling the flow. (After making sure of safety )

Modeling an instructor is how I seem to catch on best. Lots depends on how well he can convey his own learning process.
Just my two centavos
Lan

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Old 09-21-2004, 04:08 AM   #35
David Kelly
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Re: Learning How to Learn Aikido

If we take a logical approach to this question, we have to look at how we take in information and how we interpret it.
We use the five senses to take in information to our brain, sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing.
We can eliminate two of this senses smell and taste because we don't use them in learning Aikido.
So that leaves us with sight, touch and hearing.
Generally people favour one of these senses, but still are using all three to interpret the information.
Sight - Watch and learn, Touch -- Do and learn, hear -- Listen and learn.
The problem comes when interpreting the senses information.
You can get several people to watch a particular technique being executed, and you will get different interpretations of what went on.
Why is this? I believe that there are several reasons for this
1. Preference, People look to find there own preferences in the technique (judgemental).
2. Limited understanding
3. Some people are generally not observant.

So to teach people how to learn, we have to work on the senses, find there favoured sense and find what preferences that have when doing technique, (hard, strong, soft, flowing, sharp etc.) i.e. understand there interpretation of the technique and use this to guide them build there understanding, observation and maybe given them additional or other preferences that they can work on.

Measure your ability. This can be difficult you need a goal(s) (an ideal) that can be used to measure yourself against i.e. I want to be like my sensei or I want to be soft, flowing etc this gives motivation.

I believe people learn faster doing simple exercises to achieve there goals, created exercise that complement there preferred sense and preferences also try to build up there lesser senses.

SUMMARY
Have a goal, find which sense you prefer, develop exercises around that preference and sense.
Be patient and have fun.
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Old 09-21-2004, 04:14 AM   #36
David Kelly
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Re: Learning How to Learn Aikido

If we take a logical approach to this question, we have to look at how we take in information and how we interpret it.
We use the five senses to take in information to our brain, sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing.
We can eliminate two of this senses smell and taste because we don't use them in learning Aikido.
So that leaves us with sight, touch and hearing.
Generally people favour one of these senses, but still are using all three to interpret the information.
Sight - Watch and learn, Touch -- Do and learn, hear -- Listen and learn.
The problem comes when interpreting the senses information.
You can get several people to watch a particular technique being executed, and you will get different interpretations of what went on.
Why is this? I believe that there are several reasons for this
1. Preference, People look to find there own preferences in the technique (judgemental).
2. Limited understanding
3. Some people are generally not observant.

So to teach people how to learn, we have to work on the senses, find there favoured sense and find what preferences that have when doing technique, (hard, strong, soft, flowing, sharp etc.) i.e. understand there interpretation of the technique and use this to guide them build there understanding, observation and maybe given them additional or other preferences that they can work on.

Measure your ability. This can be difficult you need a goal(s) (an ideal) that can be used to measure yourself against i.e. I want to be like my sensei or I want to be soft, flowing etc this gives motivation.

I believe people learn faster doing simple exercises to achieve there goals, created exercise that complement there preferred sense and preferences also try to build up there lesser senses.

SUMMARY
Have a goal, find which sense you prefer, develop exercises around that preference and sense.
Be patient and have fun.
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Old 09-21-2004, 08:22 AM   #37
SeiserL
 
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Re: Learning How to Learn Aikido

Quote:
David Kelly wrote:
Have a goal, find which sense you prefer, develop exercises around that preference and sense.
Be patient and have fun.
David,

Your answer implies some knowledge of NLP. I would agree that the mind receives information from the sense.

IMHO, having been an auditory learning (trying to spell phonetic phonetically), I would tend not to go with the preferred lead sensory representation systems. Unless you intend to eventually pace and lead.

The auditory track is very slow, but many people initially need to talk themselves through the technique. But the body doesn't speech language.

Eventually, learning is the old style of see-do, without verbiage.

In the end, its just do, kinesthetic, body and energy feeling.

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 09-21-2004, 09:24 AM   #38
David Kelly
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Re: Learning How to Learn Aikido

SeiserL :Your answer implies some knowledge of NLP.
No I have heard of NLP but no real knowledge of it!

SeiserL: IMHO, having been an auditory learning (trying to spell phonetic phonetically), I would tend not to go with the preferred lead sensory representation systems. Unless you intend to eventually pace and lead.

I bow to your superior knowledge in this subject

SeiserL : In the end, its just do, kinesthetic, body and energy feeling.

I totally agree with this, but to get to this we need to use all means necessary to achieve this.
i.e. use all sensory input to achieve the goal.

Is it your opinion is to lead with ‘kinesthetic' and use auditory and visual secondary?
Which order do you suggest is more beneficial?
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Old 09-21-2004, 10:55 AM   #39
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: Learning How to Learn Aikido

What bothers me about the oh so oft repeated threesome of visual, kinesthetic, auditory is, it seems to me to be just the first step in learning, the receiving of information. How people actually process that information and make it their own seems to me to be different.

I would hope that the end goal isn't learning how to learn from somebody else, but learning how to go about discovering things for yourself. Learning a methodology for experimentation if that makes any sense.

I've talked with some musician/music teacher friends about teaching and while no one mentioned "learning how to learn" several people talked about "learning how to practise" as the most important thing you could teach your students...

kvaak
Pauliina
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Old 09-22-2004, 03:26 PM   #40
SeiserL
 
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Re: Learning How to Learn Aikido

Quote:
David Kelly wrote:
Is it your opinion is to lead with ‘kinesthetic' and use auditory and visual secondary?
Which order do you suggest is more beneficial?
IMHO, I tend lead with the most preferred sensory representational system. Its pretty common in our society to be very visual, but a lot of people like to talk their way through initially. There are a few natural athletes who process kinesthetic first, but usually have a rough time academically. Learning to quiet the internal dialog and stay externally visual can help responsiveness. Eventually, the external visual stimulus can just triggered the trained kinesthetic behavioral response, or technique.

I understand that practice is learning, so I tend not to make too big of a distinction here.

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 09-23-2004, 02:08 PM   #41
jonreading
 
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Re: Learning How to Learn Aikido

Jun,

I am very analytical by nature, so this question crossed my mind when I began helping new students a couple of years ago. To me, you are essentially presenting the biblical (new testament) parable of the teacher. "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime."

I personally feel that you advance in aikido by learning how to improve on your own through self-criticism.

I actually created a short bullet list of components that lead to successful techniques. I then descirbe my thought process when I am learning technique to new students. Obviously, the list has changed over the years, and will continue to change as I train. I think that instructors have many challenges to face and I try to let sempai burden the resonsibility of teaching students how to learn.
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Old 12-31-2004, 12:50 PM   #42
fatebass21
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Re: Learning How to Learn Aikido

I read somewhere that only one in every ten people somewhat interested in Aikido actually continue practing.
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Old 12-31-2004, 01:32 PM   #43
aikidoc
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Re: Learning How to Learn Aikido

I try to focus all my teaching on learning how to learn-i.e., I try to give my students the skills to steal techniques from everyone. Although I've never really sat down and said here's what I should be doing, I think the following are somehwhat used by me regularly.
1. Extremely heavy focus on kihon and tai sabaki movements.
2. Multi-sensory approach-as the NLP informed people have pointed out I tend to vak it (visual, auditory, kinesthetic). Visual: multiple demonstrations at different angles and different speeds), Auditory-I talk to damn much but I talk my way through the technique and discuss what I'm feeling and how I'm doing things. Kinesthetic-I frequently go around the room and demonstrate the technique on everyone. I also implore them to get feedback from their ukes and ask: how does it feel compared to the way it feels when sensei does it?
3. I am also very big on the use of "shaping". I don't let people build a strong neurological trace memory by repeatedly doing things wrong over and over. I correct early and often and then give positive feedback when it is done right. Sometimes the correction is one on one or if a predominant problem among the group I will show the problem to the group. I like to do it incorrectly and then correctly and ask them to pick out what is different or what I'm doing wrong.
4. Another ploy I like to use is to ask the class to come up with a way of doing a certain technique (usually advanced) off a certain attack. I want them to think and apply kihon and tai sabaki.
5. I also periodically use a sequence of tai sabaki, kihon, henka, and oyo waza. I do this even with beginners. Interestingly, it seems to make their tai sabaki and kihon better when I have them do henka or oyo waza.
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Old 12-31-2004, 02:15 PM   #44
Bronson
 
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Re: Learning How to Learn Aikido

We've played a game where I put technique names in one hat, attacks in another, and modifiers (tenkan, irimi, etc) in a third. The students get in groups pull one from each hat then go and try to make what they've drawn from the hats. Then they teach it to the rest of us I don't care if they come up with a viable technique...sometimes the answer is it just won't work...it's the process of trying to figure it out that's important.

Bronson

"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 12-31-2004, 04:26 PM   #45
Don_Modesto
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Re: Learning How to Learn Aikido

Quote:
Bronson Diffin wrote:
...it's the process of trying to figure it out that's important.
Yes. Some of the most productive training I've experienced has been in classes where I had to take up the slack for a teacher who presented a technique in an unworkable fashion.

Don J. Modesto
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Old 01-04-2005, 06:33 AM   #46
justinm
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Re: Learning How to Learn Aikido

Quote:
John Riggs wrote:
3. I am also very big on the use of "shaping". I don't let people build a strong neurological trace memory by repeatedly doing things wrong over and over. I correct early and often and then give positive feedback when it is done right. Sometimes the correction is one on one or if a predominant problem among the group I will show the problem to the group. I like to do it incorrectly and then correctly and ask them to pick out what is different or what I'm doing wrong.
John, this reminded me of a couple of things. When I restarted learning French, the teacher would never let us get away with errors. She ALWAYS corrected mistakes so that we never got into any bad habits. IIRC she said that she did not want us to ever hear the incorrect word or pronunciation without it being corrected.

I also recall during a Coaching Course that our trainer told us never to demontrate how to do it wrong, even if you said "this is wrong", because it does make an impression in the brain even it you do not want it to.

Since then I've tried to modify my teaching by never deliberately doing someing incorrectly, even if it is to show what people are doing wrong.

I do not know if this is good practice, but it seems to make sense to me at a superficial level (and I've not gone any deeper).

Has anyone else any input on this idea of NEVER deliberately showing the wrong way to do something, even if it is to say "don't do it this way"

Justin

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Old 01-04-2005, 07:56 AM   #47
Charles Hill
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Re: Learning How to Learn Aikido

Quote:
Justin McCarthy wrote:
Has anyone else any input on this idea of NEVER deliberately showing the wrong way to do something, even if it is to say "don't do it this way"
Hi Justin,

I think that showing the wrong way is a method for people to become conscious of what they are doing wrong. I agree that showing the wrong way is bad if the student(s) are not already doing that particular wrong way. But by showing them visually what they are doing wrong, this can be valuable.

I think the idea of not letting a student or yourself make any mistakes from the beginning is a good one, but I also have the thought that making mistakes and later correcting them is a valuable skill that translates well to real life.

This question reminds of a time when I was visiting a dojo with an uchideshi type program. The teacher was demonstrating a technique with the uchideshi and told the class not to attack in a certain way as the attacker would be open to a punch. The teacher then made the uchideshi attack in that wrong way and then actually punched her, pretty hard. I'm not sure what the uchideshi was supposed to learn from that!

Charles
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Old 01-04-2005, 10:55 AM   #48
aikidoc
Dojo: Aikido of Midland
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Re: Learning How to Learn Aikido

Quote:
Justin McCarthy wrote:
Since then I've tried to modify my teaching by never deliberately doing someing incorrectly, even if it is to show what people are doing wrong.
Justin
Justin. I try to show people what they are doing wrong in the following fashion. I let them practice a short time and if I notice a common problem I will stop them. I then perform the technique two ways: 1. The common way I see them doing it-here is what I'm seeing. 2. The way I demonstrated it initially (correct way)-here's what I showed you. I then ask them what was different or what did they notice about how I was doing it versus how they were doing it? It makes them think and observe. I find this helps correct the problem without focusing on the way it was being done wrong but rather on what they were doing versus what was showed.

I like your language comment. To me learning a language involves learning the vocabular and then syntax-construction of the language. Learning aikido is the same-learning the basics and then learning how to put them together in a pattern of movement consistently.
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Old 01-05-2005, 03:01 AM   #49
justinm
Location: Maidenhead
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Re: Learning How to Learn Aikido

Thanks John - that makes sense to me, and I think it avoids what I percieve as the problem, although it is an indistinct line that I will probably continue to stay well away from until I feel more confident as a teacher.

I think it was Goldsbury Sensei that initially made the comparison with learning a language. A more common analogy I hear is learning to play an instrument, although I like the language analogy particularly. What stands out in both to me is the need for sound basics, and that these basics do not loose their importance and 'truth' just because you become fluent.

Justin

Justin McCarthy
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Old 01-05-2005, 08:13 AM   #50
aikidoc
Dojo: Aikido of Midland
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Re: Learning How to Learn Aikido

I agree on the basics Justin. I usually show tai sabaki first and have them practice that and then we move to the technique. When is show the differences between what is being shown and what is being performed I emphasize the correct tai sabaki. I often use something similar to shadow boxing. I have everyone perform the technique without anyone attacking them. We do this several times on both sides. Then we move to attack. It helps but it seems when someone is attacking parts of it fall apart . Then we have to work on correcting the problems.
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