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Instructing New Students of Aikido

Sensei's thoughts and writings

Instructing New Students of Aikido

Postby Francis Takahashi » Fri Jun 06, 2014 11:43 pm

The giving of instruction of new ideas, strategies and technical guidance and knowledge to other human beings has existed since time immemorial. What has drastically changed is the scope, content and complexity of the information available and required to be learned and successfully assimilated by those who require such instruction. The immensity and variety of new information, systems of learning and the creation of effective and innovative ways to deliver and to archive such instruction has also seen quantum changes. The sheer amount of recorded data and history has dwarfed previously maintained archives a million fold, probably much more.

In the not too distant past, instruction was given one to one, or to a relatively small group of individuals. If instruction manuals were required, they were relatively uncomplicated, easy to read, to follow, and were printed in limited quantities. This made most instructional tasks simple and efficient. Even in the field of coaching, which defines most martial arts instruction systems today, the task of transmitting new ideas, innovative concepts, and sophisticated techniques are easily understandable and repeatable. The emphasis for physical education programs was primarily on constant repetition, mundane drills and boring rehearsals. The students themselves needed to spend significant time, honest effort and disciplined thinking into absorbing, incorporating and then repeating the lessons back to the instructors. This left little time for incentives to be given to students to think beyond and outside of the box constructed by trainers, coaches and system designers at that time. “Thinking on your own” was taboo, counterproductive, and disrespectful of revered mentors and “proven” systems of the past. Only a precious few exhibited the courage and vision to create systems of their own.

There still remains a major dependence on what has worked in the past, with legitimacy based on “authority” figures and systems of the past, and the reputations of icons from previous generations. More often than not, those original notions, teachings and pronouncements were never seriously challenged for their content, relevance to modern day problems, or for their inflexibility in dealing effectively with new challenges and situations. “Thinking outside the box” is now a cliché, but still rarely practiced, encouraged or acknowledged.

Now, there is a new and potentially disastrous element of danger. Our radically new and ever expanding capacity to gather, organize, and to instantly archive vast amounts of new input and non related information, threatens to overwhelm our ability to reorganize, systematize, redistribute and effectively assimilate and to teach. Each new advance of understanding and accepted standard of what is true may well already be obsolete, even as it is being distributed for implementation by instructors and students. Our very ability to archive, incorporate and efficiently utilize vast new platforms of information is being severely challenged, and often found inadequate.

How does any of this apply to the teaching of authentic and verifiable “standards” of Aikido terminology and techniques? Is it permissible and reasonable to teach the old standards, and ignore the wealth of new ideas, understandings and invaluable new input from fresh thinking? Don't we witness the creation of novel and exciting discoveries of different and more effective ways to execute the techniques we treasure, almost on a daily basis? I know that I do, being enthralled at the creativity, boldness and energy from the new leaders of Aikido as they manifest themselves in classes, seminars and special workshops held everywhere.

I also find no need for either concern or alarm, as these innovations are relatively small, and can wait their turn, so to speak, as the accepted standards are taught, incorporated by the students, and manifested in higher levels of training energy and success. They can then be gradually introduced in future classes, giving fresh opportunities for both instructors and students to find a comfort zone in which to accept, and then to apply them.

As long as we remember that Aikido classes are held for the primary benefit of the students, there should be no need for instructors to compete for “authority”, or for status, both of which are irrelevant during real training. I have a motto that states, whenever you step on the mat to train sincerely, you carry no rank with you. It will miraculously reattach itself to you when you step off the mat. While on the mat training, all each person can ever be, is a diligent student of Ueshiba Aikido, respectful of it's traditions, its principles, and its legacy of kind consideration of others, both on and off the mat, inside or outside the dojo. Remember, that white belt that you are assisting with the fundamentals of Aikido, may well be, and quite often is a major force in his or her profession, a community leader, a proud parent and a noble human being. Each student of Aikido is deserving of respect, trust and kindness, the very minimum all of us would be grateful to receive at any time.
Francis Takahashi
Posts: 411
Joined: Fri Nov 06, 2009 5:51 pm

Re: Instructing New Students of Aikido

Postby Carina Rei » Sat Jun 07, 2014 4:23 am

Thank you Takahashi Shihan for a complete view of what the instruction is about and particularly the aikido instruction. It includes a responsibility for the teacher toward his students. The human usually takes his teacher as his model and tries to imitate him. So as you pointed out one of the main points of the instruction is to teach the student to think on his own, to analyse and investigate the information given by the instructor.

And of course there is a moral debt to our newbies, to introduce them kindly in the art and with the same respect we got from our seniors.
Carina Rei
Posts: 461
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2011 12:50 am
Location: Gran Canaria - Spain

Re: Instructing New Students of Aikido

Postby Carina Rei » Mon Jun 09, 2014 11:50 pm

Some comments in my spanish blog

Ricardo Amorim says:
Good Morning, Carina,
Very interesting reflection that invites us Takahashi Shihan. For me, I think the role of the teacher is to observe the student and with this observation, help students to develop their own skills and techniques. As the nomenclature becomes secondary, based on the concept that one naturally incorporates time of study and practice.
Thank you very much for this translation.

Good morning Ricardo,
It's true what you say, a good teacher knows that every student is different and therefore should be treated differently, what matters is to encourage the student to think for himself. Thank you very much and
a hug

AikiGuille says:
Far from an exquisite technique in Aikido I am looking for a teacher who knows how to transmit knowledge and connect with their students, for me he is not good, if he is not able to teach me.
A hug Carina.

That's very true Guillermo, that you like or do not so much a martial art as well as a subject depends on 99% of the teacher or intructor, thank you very much and
a hug

Puedes leer este artículo aquí en español

Bitte lese diesen Artikel hier auf Deutsch
Carina Rei
Posts: 461
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2011 12:50 am
Location: Gran Canaria - Spain

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