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Old 11-02-2004, 10:40 AM   #1
akiy
 
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Instructor Qualities/Characteristics

Hi folks,

So, without naming names, what qualities and characteristics of an aikido instructor impress you most?

-- Jun

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Old 11-02-2004, 10:49 AM   #2
Janet Rosen
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Re: Instructor Qualities/Characteristics

The same things that impress me in instructors of any subject: While having mastery of skills, retaining enthusiasm and a sense of continued discover;, the ability to be playful while conveying serious stuff.

Janet Rosen
http://www.zanshinart.com
"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 11-02-2004, 10:54 AM   #3
Brehan Crawford
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Re: Instructor Qualities/Characteristics

Something I've noted is pretty common among a lot of my favorite teachers (in any discipline) is a great sense of humor.
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Old 11-02-2004, 01:22 PM   #4
JJF
 
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Re: Instructor Qualities/Characteristics

The ability to sense how to show the door to the next level in a way that suits the students. Takes insight, empathy and unselfishness.

- Jørgen Jakob Friis

Inspiration - Aspiration - Perspiration
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Old 11-02-2004, 01:24 PM   #5
aikidoc
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Re: Instructor Qualities/Characteristics

1. Technical competence and the ability to communicate their technique in such a way students can understand it.
2. Credibility-legitimate credentials, not ones self awarded or awarded through non-legitimate organizations (e.g., karate organizations awarding aikido ranks, soke organizations-most).
3. Care and concern for developing students and challenging them to improve and grow.
4. Challenging students to improve technically, spiritually, and ethically.
5. Ability to enjoy training and have fun (not too rigid or stiff).
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Old 11-02-2004, 09:36 PM   #6
Dan Gould
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Re: Instructor Qualities/Characteristics

Sense of humour isn't so much a necessity, but it's really appreciated.

What I like are to have a relaxed atmopshere. When I was doing karate, it felt like I was on my own, on the far side, doing punches for about four hours, totally alone, nobody even spoke to me. I dunno if all karate is like this, bnut this class was. What I love about my aikijutsu and aikido classes are that we switch and change partners, we're allowed to talk, and sometimes with the ground moves in aikijutsu, there has been instances of random scraps breaking out, lol, bodies rolling over bodies, some light wrestling going on, and the senseis laugh along and say "alright boys, you've had a laugh now, get up" where I bet in some other places they'd get torn apart.

When I was 12 a guy was teaching me aikido out of his flat. He demonstrated the one inch punch on me. Sure, I was impressed. I was also hurt. I could hardly breathe for 9 days from the pain. My aikijutsu sensei showed it to me. I flew three feet back flat against the wall. I didn't feel a thing. I like that - powerful, but controlled. That's part of why I stayed on, I think, I was impressed that it had the power behind it, but no pain.

Modesty is also important, somebody who can laugh at himself if he cocks up the technique, or whatever, and who just doesn't act like "I'm a 5th dan, BOW TO ME! I ROCK!" kind of thing. I prefer having a sensei with the attitude "Yes, I'm a fifth dan, but I worked hard to get here and you can get here too in time."

So, relaxing dojo atmosphere while maintaining discipline and focus, modesty of ability without holding back on ability, and power without aggression.
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Old 11-02-2004, 11:45 PM   #7
Charles Hill
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Re: Instructor Qualities/Characteristics

I am impressed by teachers who can see when what they are doing isn`t working, whether teaching or a technique, and smoothly switch to something else.

Charles Hill
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Old 11-03-2004, 12:42 AM   #8
Clayton Drescher
 
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Re: Instructor Qualities/Characteristics

Senseis who are still learning...and acknowledge that they are still learning...makes us all feel on the same page
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Old 11-03-2004, 01:37 AM   #9
Bridge
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Re: Instructor Qualities/Characteristics

A sensei who clearly appreciates all that their sensei did for them, and a willingness to do the same/similar for their students.

And one who is still trains and remembers what it's like to be the one who doesn't understand.
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Old 11-03-2004, 08:03 AM   #10
SeiserL
 
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Re: Instructor Qualities/Characteristics

I am impressed by instructors who really do appear to have something special and genuinely enjoy sharing it patiently with those of us who don't.

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 11-03-2004, 09:15 AM   #11
Jonathan Thielen
 
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Re: Instructor Qualities/Characteristics

I appreciate instructors who have a strong sense of how aikido can (and does!) affect the greater community outside the dojo walls, and choose to actively share their perspectives.

(...plus everything you guys have said!)
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Old 11-03-2004, 03:13 PM   #12
Don_Modesto
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Re: Instructor Qualities/Characteristics

Technical competence

Ability to convey the details and feeling of the technique through graded training activities

Expects much of students; pushes them beyond their limits without brutality

Knowledge of history and technical background

Respect for everyone on the mat and off

Character--integrity, modesty, confidence; direct, honest, warm

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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Old 11-03-2004, 06:14 PM   #13
maikerus
Dojo: Roppongi Yoshinkan Aikido / Roppongi, Tokyo, Japan
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Re: Instructor Qualities/Characteristics

Technical competence and the ability to do the technique are obviously important, but mainly they have to be better than me and be able to help me improve my Aikido.

I have had some instructors whose technique and understanding of Aikido is brilliant, but they would show me something so far above what I can see, that I couldn't even start to figure out how to get there. To me its important that the instructor can teach me and help guide me to the next step in my studying...and not just be a super hot-shot fantastic technique throwing demonstrator.

Things that I find that work good with me to do this are:

1) Sense of humour
2) That I can see that they are learning and studying too; enthusiastic and enjoying it
3) That we can discuss ideas and techniques to aid in my understanding rather than being told "this is the way...so do it"
4) High expectations of self and of students
5) To be consistant - in teaching, technique, attitude and explanations

Hiriki no yosei 3 - The kihon that makes your head ache instead of your legs
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Old 11-05-2004, 05:00 PM   #14
mj
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Re: Instructor Qualities/Characteristics

Quote:
Don J. Modesto wrote:
Technical competence

Ability to convey the details and feeling of the technique through graded training activities

Expects much of students; pushes them beyond their limits without brutality

Knowledge of history and technical background

Respect for everyone on the mat and off

Character--integrity, modesty, confidence; direct, honest, warm
You're expecting a perfect teacher then?

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Old 11-05-2004, 06:01 PM   #15
MaryKaye
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Re: Instructor Qualities/Characteristics

I really admire the ability to look at a mass of confusion and technical errors and pick out the one thing that will help the student to improve right away, rather than just adding to the confusion. And, later on, the ability to look at a technique which is just about correct and pick out the detail that will allow significant further improvement.

Most of all, though, I love training under someone who is really excited by his/her students' progress and by aikido in general. Enthusiasm is contagious. I think of the way one of my teachers burbles when she sees a lightbulb go off in a student's mind; or the way another sneaks throws into the curriculum because they're just so cool he can't wait to share them.

Mary Kaye
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Old 11-05-2004, 06:47 PM   #16
Jeanne Shepard
 
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Re: Instructor Qualities/Characteristics

Showing interest in student's progress is good, and seeing students as individuals (whats good for one isn't good for another) is impressive. Not a cookbook approach.

Jeanne
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Old 11-06-2004, 07:01 AM   #17
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Instructor Qualities/Characteristics

I have had four main teachers in my budo training. All four of them had a great deal of experience along with breadth. All of them had studied something else other than AIkido. All of them actually had opinions and ideas about Aikido and interpreted the art. Most of all, they were brutally honest about how much I sucked, but were willing to help.
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Old 11-06-2004, 11:23 AM   #18
Don_Modesto
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Re: Instructor Qualities/Characteristics

Quote:
mark johnston wrote:
You're expecting a perfect teacher then?
"Expecting"?!

Ha!

"qualities and characteristics of an aikido instructor [impressing me] most?"

You got 'em.

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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Old 11-06-2004, 12:28 PM   #19
Jeanne Shepard
 
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Re: Instructor Qualities/Characteristics

Honesty is important. "Brutal Honesty" I can live without.
Come to think of it, "Brutal Anything" I can live without.

Jeanne
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Old 11-06-2004, 01:18 PM   #20
Big Dave
Dojo: Shobu Aikido Connecticut
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Re: Instructor Qualities/Characteristics

There are many qualities that come with being a good teacher. Patience, humility, a sense of humor, the ability to relate to different kinds of people and personalites, etc....Maybe I want too much, but most importantly I am looking for that special something - that I can somehow see that a life dedicated to the discipline of aikido has resulted in something greater - a sense of calmness, inner confidence, maybe just a certain look in their eye.....so hard to describe yet it's obvious when its absent.
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Old 11-08-2004, 11:15 PM   #21
Anders Bjonback
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Re: Instructor Qualities/Characteristics

You know, I don't think I've ever had an aikido instuctor I don't like. But that's probably because I've only been training for two years at one dojo. Each instructor has his or her own style and something unique to give. If I ever do run into a class in which I don't like the instructor's approach, I think I should blame myself for not being open rather than blaming the instructor.
Even humility isn't necessarily something that I deem necessary in an instructor, as long as I'm getting something good out of what he or she is teaching. I guess one thing I wouldn't like in a teacher would be a drill sargent who was in your face and called you a wimp or a sissy because you couldn't handle pain or weren't in good shape. But aikido isn't really a martial art that attracts many people of that sort.

"For peace and happiness are presences, not objects we can grasp and hold onto."
--Lilian Smith
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Old 11-11-2004, 08:48 AM   #22
justinm
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Re: Instructor Qualities/Characteristics

As a fledgling instructor, the one thing that impresses me the most at the moment is commitment.

To keep giving what you can even when..

...things get tough financially
...students don't turn up
...you feel like sh*t and would love just to go to bed
...your best student moves away
...you know you have another 5 hours of report writing still to finish tonight before you cango to bed
...the student you have been coaching towards their next grading in 2 week time goes to the pub instead
...

I've been trying to do this for 2 years. It's really tough, and sometimes I wonder how people can just keep giving so much, day after day, year after year. As a student, I like all these things that people have said - humour, understanding, patience etc. but my personal experience is that some of that stuff is the easy bit. And is the visible bit.

What we easily forget is that we have a choice whether to go to class tonight. The instructor does not. That commitment to the club, the students and the art that these people give year after year, without us even noticing - that's what impresses me.

Justin McCarthy
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Old 11-11-2004, 03:01 PM   #23
mriehle
 
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Re: Instructor Qualities/Characteristics

Quote:
Justin McCarthy wrote:
As a fledgling instructor, the one thing that impresses me the most at the moment is commitment.

To keep giving what you can even when..
What a great post, Justin. It echoes so much of my own experience. Sometimes just going to class is a huge challenge.

I'll add this challenge, though:

Family members who think this being an Aikido teacher is just a lark. It's all just a lot of fun or a way to escape from the family for a few hours. Sooner or later, you know, you'll learn to be responsible again.

It's really discouraging to get this lecture from someone in your family after weeks of trying to attract students and work out ways to make the business work without compromising your principles. Especially two hours before it's time to leave to go teach classes.

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Old 11-18-2004, 07:38 PM   #24
Dan Gould
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Re: Instructor Qualities/Characteristics

My sensei finished what he wanted to teach us a few minutes early on Monday, so offered us five minutes of aikido demonstration to round off the class. He called up the more senior student present, and told him to practice what he wished.

Sensei then attacked the student

First time I've ever seen the sensei act as uke. I don't know why I feel so strongly about that, but it really impressed me that he would be uke. I've never seen another sensei act as uke before, he's usually nage.

Just a thought
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Old 11-22-2004, 09:00 PM   #25
rob_liberti
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Re: Instructor Qualities/Characteristics

I would like to add some context to the idea of humilty - the teacher should not allow anyone to put them on a pedastol.

Also, a teacher needs to know when to kick someone out.

Rob
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