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#128771 - 04/14/05 03:19 PM Discouraging Beginners??
Joe Jutsu Offline

Registered: 04/09/03
Posts: 575
Hello all-

It's been awhile since I've been an active participant on these boards, but I have an issue that I could use a little outside perspective on.

I participate in a college Ki Aikido club, and have for the last four or so years (I'm obviously not on the "four-year plan" [IMG][/IMG] ). Anyway, after waning numbers over the last few years, we have had a rather large influx of newbies as of late, well large for us anyway. So we've secured a few new time slots in hopes to really land a few permanent members, seeing as the three most senior members are all graduating this year.

Anyway, most of these guys are enthusiastic, which I really like, and for the most part fairly athletic/coordinated, so they are picking up on the movements pretty quickly. And due to resources like the internet, they are searching out aikido with a zeal akin to my own years ago. We've sort of adopted a semi-informal atmosphere in club as of late, and I've arrived in a situation where I am the lone "instructor" on one of these days, without anybody with any aikido experience at all to help me. Now this is an interesting challenge, especially when I feel like I am getting more than one look of disbelief.

For instance, one newbie in particular, a guy significantly (physically) stronger than I, wasn't buying an ikkyo pin that I was demonstrating. He asked for me to do it on him. "No problem" I said, and proceeded to pin him with ikkyo. "Can I try to struggle away" he asks. I'm thinking this might be bad, but I told him to go for it. He couldn't struggle away, but I really cranked his wrist in the process. Hopefully he put some ice on it, because he was struggling like his life depended on it, which is the same attitude he carries when other people are trying to learn techniques. I've tried to tell him to relax, and to explain to him that by being a good uke you can help nage correctly learn the throws, but this explanation has come to no avail. This attitude is carried by more than this one particular individual as well.

In other words, I get the impression that these guys really just want to beat some ass. They want to feel powerful, immediately, and with all of the aikido videos on the internet available, they're always asking me to show them this or that, ignoring the basic curriculum that in my opinion must be followed in order to acheive these "higher" levels of aikido. I think a couple of them really do want to have their butts handed to them to "feel" that this stuff works, but there's something inside of me that almost feels that they are not in the right place. Aikido is not about fighting. I have half a mind to go and refer them to the judo club a couple hours later. Maybe years down the road they will have less of a fighting mind, at which point aikido my be for them.

Anyway, I guess my question is would you try to win over some of these "toughies," and if so how much would you alter class to do so. I'm thinking about putting a nix on all techniques above fourth or third kyu until the are at least at the level that they could technique wise pass a fifth kyu test, and am also thinking about starting class of with about fifteen minutes of ki breathing. A little seiza in my experience can do wonders to humble a tough guy (coming from my own experience as a former wrestler).

I guess another way to phrase the question would be, which path here is the path of non-dissension??

Your input is most welcomed and appreciated.


[This message has been edited by Joe Jutsu (edited 04-14-2005).]

#128772 - 04/14/05 04:18 PM Re: Discouraging Beginners??


Your situation is not that umcommon regardless of the martial art. You did not indicate in your original post what your rank is, not that it matters that much, but as you are the senior student with this group it's your solution that ultimately counts.

IMHO, I would stick strictly to the corriculum and teaching methods that you have trained in the past. It is one thing to come to class to learn, it is something else come to class wanting to "test" new techniques because your curious about their effectiveness. That curiosity is natural (I think) but is not that difficult to curb once you get them settled into the routine of how a class will run.

A big part of the responsibilty of teaching is to bring people to a place that they may not have planned on going. Doing this means overcoming thier pre-concieved ideas of what the art is, how it is learned and how is practiced. You are responbile for taking care of the first two and, finally, they figure out for themselves how they will practice the aikido theye've been taught.

I once had a karate sensei who would have a heart-to-heart with people after their first belt promotion (around 6 months). It was in part motivational, but mostly to invite the student ask themselves "why" they were training in the first place. There was nothing harsh with the way he went about it but the results were that over the next few months the numbers of these newly promoted students usually began to drop dramatically.

I did not fully appreciate it at the time but he was simply asking everyone if they were willing to accept what he, himslef was freely sharing with them. Many years later two things come to mind, one is that I still recall being asked that question the first time and two, I never stopped asking it of myself.

Just teach "your" class and help them to become good aikido students over the next several months. Pepare them to be asked "why" they want to learn aikido. If their answer is to quit or to continue with aikido or to try the judo club, than you have done them (and your dojo) a great favor.

Be well,

- KiDoHae

#128773 - 04/14/05 06:36 PM Re: Discouraging Beginners??

If I may add further to KiDoHae's post...

3 students in every class.
Steven Seagal wannabees.
True learners.

With kindness,
Show them softness.
With gentle firmness,
Dissolve hardness.

Show them the folly
of their ways.
Point them,
to the lighted path.

Stay or leave,
they cannot be stopped.
People seek outside,
what is inside.

Focus on the Self,
Adhere to basics.
First crawl, then walk.
There are no shortcuts.

When the student is ready,
the teacher will come.
When the teacher is ready,
the student will come.

- Ignatius

#128774 - 04/18/05 01:50 PM Re: Discouraging Beginners??
Joe Jutsu Offline

Registered: 04/09/03
Posts: 575
Hello and thanks for the replies.

I've been thinking about this situation a bit, and I think I've come to a good solution. "My" class has consisted of college freshmen, all guys, with maybe the most "senior" in the group having a whole month and a half of aikido. So yes, it is natural for beginners to want to test the efficacy of a technique, but I really have felt like I needed to prove my self, for a lack of a better phrase, to these guys. Understandable, considering that several of them are bigger than I. In a way, I sort of was set at a disadvantage, having no other experienced people in my class with me, and to help me. I was thinking that at the intro class at our dojo, they would never have just the sensei and beginners, there'd always be at least one or two sempai there as well. So in order to acheive this we are canceling one of our sessions to free us up a bit, so I'll have another "veteran" there to help out.

And again, not that it matters, but I'm only nikyu, and my helper is only sankyu, but that's cool. I do enjoy the challenge of teaching people who clearly don't "get it" yet, and it is also a great reminder to myself that I don't truly "get it" either.



#128775 - 04/18/05 02:17 PM Re: Discouraging Beginners??
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5844
Loc: USA

I would recommend a slight additon to your teaching methods.

Run a "normal" class--done as strictly "by the book" as you wish.
Then if they do their "homework" and perform properly--then spend some extra time on the more "physical" stuff.

Maybe by showing them the value of the "normal" practice to the "rougher" parts of class might help.
If they don't spend the time on the foundations of good technique they will start to get crunched by the folks who do.

Might be a good "carrot and stick" thing.

[This message has been edited by cxt (edited 04-18-2005).]


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