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Old 05-20-2004, 04:47 PM   #1
Sue Trinidad
Dojo: Island Aikido
Location: Bainbridge Island, WA
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Question Etiquette question from a newbie

In my dojo, the teacher demonstrates a technique with one of the advanced students a few times, then says, "Please try." Then everybody except sensei pairs up. (This may be how it is everywhere, but I have nothing to compare it to, sorry.)

Though I am not (in my regular life outside aikido) a very shy person, I have been hanging back and waiting for someone else to invite me to train with them. This is because (a) I feel like it might be the "right" thing to do, to show respect for people who are more senior, and (b) I am sensitive to the fact that there may be people who view working with a rank beginner as a waste of their time--in which case they are probably right!

All that to (finally) get to the question: Am I doing the right thing here? Or are others likely to start thinking of me as a little mouse who doesn't "own" her own practice?

Thanks!
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Old 05-20-2004, 04:53 PM   #2
Chuck Clark
 
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Re: Etiquette question from a newbie

Susan,

In my experience you would do well to get to the most senior person possible each time. Eventually, juniors will be after you to practice with them. Chase the chance to train with more experienced people whenever possible.

Gambatte!

Chuck Clark
Jiyushinkai Aikibudo
www.jiyushinkai.org
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Old 05-20-2004, 05:17 PM   #3
Aikiscott
Dojo: Central Coast Aikikai
Location: Gosford
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Australia
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Re: Etiquette question from a newbie

Hi Sue
As Chuck said it is best that you grab the most senior grades you can for training. It is also good for them to help them remember how it was when they were beginners. It also helps seniors develop teaching skills. So it should be a win win situation for all involved.
Though there will always be those who feel that they don't need to train with beginners, so work out who they are & make them train with you.
In our Dojo, If a Dan grade comes in from another Dojo there can sometimes be small scuffles to get a hold of them.

Last edited by Aikiscott : 05-20-2004 at 05:19 PM.
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Old 05-20-2004, 05:40 PM   #4
Sue Trinidad
Dojo: Island Aikido
Location: Bainbridge Island, WA
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Re: Etiquette question from a newbie

Thanks, Chuck and Scott, for your responses. This helps!

I know I do better with the more experienced people, because that way there is one of us who actually understands what we're supposed to be doing. Of course. . . at this point, everybody is more experienced, so I can't really lose!
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Old 05-20-2004, 05:45 PM   #5
Janet Rosen
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Re: Etiquette question from a newbie

Hi, Susan.
What I would add is, yes, the method you describe is how most dojo do it (demo then pair up). What I suggest is, as the demo ends, folks bow, really quickly turn to left or right and smile and bow to the person there.
As for trying to get more senior person: When it's time to stop and sit down again, quickly figure out who you want to sit down next to in order to make this possible! OR....try to make eye contact with the demo uke as he or she comes up from bowing to the instructor.

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 05-20-2004, 05:46 PM   #6
stuartjvnorton
 
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Re: Etiquette question from a newbie

Hi Sue,

Just get in there & grab someone. Sometimes the differences in how people's bodies move might be a bit confusing to start with, but you'll learn something different from everyone. Even if what they say is not necessarily "right", it can bring on 1 of those moments that really make a difference.
Besides, then you get to know more people & you'll start to feel at home there.

As for those people who think that training with you is a waste of their time because you're a beginner, don't blame yourself. There is plenty they could learn from you if they just took their blinkers off.
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Old 05-20-2004, 06:10 PM   #7
Sue Trinidad
Dojo: Island Aikido
Location: Bainbridge Island, WA
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Re: Etiquette question from a newbie

You all are great! I love this site.

Janet, I really appreciate the concrete suggestions about how to "hook" a more senior person. Heh. . . get 'em with the eye contact. (This means I will have to control the cartoon-style google eyes I think I get with some of the more complicated demonstrations!)

And thank you, thank you, thank you Stuart for the encouragement. . . it helps to be reminded that beginner's mind is a GOOD thing!

Sue
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Old 05-20-2004, 06:31 PM   #8
Aristeia
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Re: Etiquette question from a newbie

Agree with all. In my opinion the most imprortant technique that should be taught to all beginners on day one is grab-a-senior-blackbelt waza. Don't be concerned about offending them, it's a sign of respect to try and train with a senior rather than the converse. And believe me there are lots of benefits to a senior of training with a beginner. Seeking out and "snagging" as higher grade as possible for every technique, is as a behaviour, the single most reliable predictor of how quickly someone will progress in the art (assuming a reasonable level of attendence).

"When your only tool is a hammer every problem starts to look like a nail"
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Old 05-20-2004, 08:08 PM   #9
giriasis
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Re: Etiquette question from a newbie

Susan,

Please don't feel like your being rude or that it's not your place to approach a senior student. The trick I initiated is when the sensei calls the class to do the next technique, I will go sit down next to the person I want to train with next, then tap them on the shoulder or make eye contact. This way you have someone tagged who knows you want to train with them before people breakup into pairs again. I am always thrilled when someone approaches to train with me.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 05-20-2004, 10:22 PM   #10
Joanne Arnest
Dojo: Oberlin Aikikai
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Re: Etiquette question from a newbie

Definitly try to snag the senior students as often as possible! I know I do. Sitting next to people you want to train with is a good suggestion. One thing I often try to do is to work with as many different people as possible during class. I think senior students have an obligation to work with beginners for at least some of the time when they are training. This includes me when there are people even newer than me (I've been training less than a year). And the more you train with them, and show you are willing to move a bit out of your comfort zone (and I know I am more likely to push myself just a bit more with a higher ranking student), the more you'll be noticed. The greatest thing is when a senior student turns to you and asks you to train with them.
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Old 05-20-2004, 11:47 PM   #11
Largo
Dojo: Aikikai Dobunkan/ Icho Ryu Aikijujutsu
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Re: Etiquette question from a newbie

If anything, I would say that it would be more rude to hang back and wait. (don't worry, it isn't) Just grab someone and get get training.
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Old 05-21-2004, 12:46 AM   #12
Bronson
 
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Re: Etiquette question from a newbie

If possible try to work with the demo uke. They're the ones who got to actually feel what the sensei was doing. Priceless information. I'd try to sit right in front of where the demo happens so you can come out of your bow and be right in front of the demo uke.

In our dojo newer folks are told to seek out the the more experienced students. The higher ranks usually come up from the bow and space themselves out through the dojo and the lower ranks go to one of them. Our dojo space is kinda small so we usually end up with groups of 3 and we like to have one person in each group of at least nikyu rank if at all possible.

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 05-21-2004, 01:53 AM   #13
ruthmc
Dojo: Wokingham Aikido
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Re: Etiquette question from a newbie

Interesting replies. I have related question:

How do you deal with it when you bow to a senior student and they say "I don't want to train with you, I'm only training with senior grades, because I have my grading coming up" ?

This happened to me a couple of times when I was a mid-kyu, at Summer School, both times with the same senior student.

Interestingly enough, this same student stopped training regularly a couple of years later and I kept going. Last time we trained together (a few years ago) he kept asking me what to do, as his Aikido was much worse than mine!

Personally I think you can learn while training with anybody, and it's your obligation to train with everybody in your dojo, especially when you have a mix of grades.

Ruth
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Old 05-21-2004, 02:00 AM   #14
Janet Rosen
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Re: Etiquette question from a newbie

Quote:
Ruth McWilliam wrote:
How do you deal with it when you bow to a senior student and they say "I don't want to train with you, I'm only training with senior grades, because I have my grading coming up" ?
Ruth
Raise one eyebrow, turn abruptly away, and ignore them for a very very long time.
And no, I'm not being facetious.

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 05-21-2004, 03:24 AM   #15
Jepi
Location: Catalonia, Spain
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Re: Etiquette question from a newbie

In my dojo, our sensei told us that everyone must train with beginners.
This is part of senior aikido training.
Of course, not all the time during the session.
For me, it's a good practice: new people does not follow my technique and i had to improve it.

Sue, still I'm a beginner and senior people around me are very kindly.
I sit down and look left/right. When it's time to practice, I wait a few seconds.
90% times senior people tap on my shoulder.
For the rest, I make eye contact and smile.
If I'm a little more senior than my fellow, I follow the rule: tap on shoulder, smile and enjoy.

Jepi
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Old 05-21-2004, 03:29 AM   #16
Orihime
Dojo: Sei Shin Kai (Compiègne)
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Re: Etiquette question from a newbie

Well, I thought nobody could refuse to train with someone else for this kind of reasons. However, if it does, you can either lei it be or insist. And if there's nobody else to train with, the guy will have no choice but to train with you
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Old 05-21-2004, 06:41 AM   #17
ian
 
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Re: Etiquette question from a newbie

It is polite to never leave a senior person without a partner (since they should have a lot to teach you). So as a beginner you should always try to pair up with a senior partner. If there is a senior partner, unpartnered, be prepared to leave your partner to pair with them, or better still - train as a three.

Senior people often neglect beginners, which is to their own detriment. When you've been training in aikido for too long you get conditioned to by a good uke. It is very useful to see how normal people react once in a while!

Be proactive (but not impolite) and rush to get partnered with someone. If everyone held back waiting to be partnered, aikido would not occur! It also helps to develop a positive spirit, which I think is essential in aikido.

(I think it is often useful as an instructor to just request an uke (and at least one should leap up immediately), rather than choosing an uke, so that students get used to instaneous response and develop this postivity).
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Old 05-21-2004, 07:44 AM   #18
SeiserL
 
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Re: Etiquette question from a newbie

I was more shy as a beginner, didn't want to interfere with my senior's workout. Humility and respect, you know that kind of thing.

As a Sempai now, I am always honored to have someone seek my out and want to train with me. It is a very nice show of respect for your seniors. Most of us respect the time others gave to us and want to return the favor.

Now get out of your head, grab your nearest Sempai, and train well.

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 05-21-2004, 08:22 AM   #19
Yann Golanski
 
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Re: Etiquette question from a newbie

I like what happens at my dojo. We split the class in two, lower rank and hight ranks. We then have two lines and whoever is in front of you becomes your partner. When it's time to change, the lower rank line rotates. That way every low grade learns from hight grades all the time.

Sometimes, sensei will ask low grades to sit out and the hight grades can practice more vigorously between themselves, have more room to ukemi and show the lower grades how it is done. Of course, at the end of each class we do lots of randori. The higher grades end up doing practicing with everyone once more and the lower grades just with the higher ones. It works well.

The people who understand, understand prefectly.
yann@york-aikido.org York Shodokan Aikido
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Old 05-21-2004, 09:29 AM   #20
justinm
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Re: Etiquette question from a newbie

I must admit I have excused myself when asked to partner someone. But never because they are a beginner - just the reverse. Recently, during a seminar, where a lot of yudansha were only training together, one of them asked me to train with her and I politely declined, explaining that I wanted to train with one of the beginners instead, who was finding it difficult to join in.

However I do feel a little uncomfortable about that, since she had sought me out. Next time I see her I'll make sure we get a chance to train together.

Justin

Justin McCarthy
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