Tag Archives: Teaching

Planned And Published In Advance Every once in a while the question, “What makes a good sensei?” comes up for discussion. There are, of course, many valid answers for this question. This post is going to take a different approach to the standard responses. This month will kick off a series looking at what makes a good training session. Since the sensei runs the session, a good training session requires a good sensei. The inference being that if you do these things then you will improve as a sensei. This…

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People often talk about modernising aikido, but when they do this they tend to refer to adding techniques and removing others. Very few people ever talk about the techniques used to teach aikido. The closest aikidoka come to that is discussing free-style sparring. Some are against it, others just go ahead and do it. This blog post will introduce a new way to teach your students the irimi entry. The Problem At some point in their training every aikidoka will have been told to “go forward”. For a sensei to…

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The new student, after a few training sessions, goes over to the instructor and says, “You are so good, how long have you been training?”, or something similar. Another example is, “How long does it take to get a black belt?” These are common questions that crop up almost every time a new student joins a dojo. They’re important questions, but they’re not the real questions. What the student wants to know is how much work they have to do to achieve the same level. So What Is The Answer?…

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There has been a large amount of conversation on social media over the last number of years about the ineffectiveness of aikido as a martial art. This has been caused by numerous factors ranging from aikidoka themselves, to the nature of the demonstrations, to the near meteoric rise of mixed martial arts competitions. Aikido hasn’t been the only art to suffer under this. Many traditional martial arts are experiencing the same thing. Perhaps the most famous example of this is the loss of numerous kung fu masters in China to…

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Another question that has come up on social media recently was, ‘What would you like aikido training in the future to look like?’ Again, this was an interesting and thought provoking question that prompted many responses. I’ve expanded on my thoughts on this topic here. Unsurprisingly, there’s a few factors to take into consideration on this subject. Self-defence The first and most obvious is the self-defence aspect. 99% of people (and that’s being generous) have no real concept of what self-defence actually is. This includes the vast majority of self-defence…

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What it comes to ukemi, I believe that aikido has a serious problem that the vast majority of people aren’t even aware of. It’s a pretty simple one and to find out what it is let’s consider the standard aikido class. As we consider this, reflect on the moment where we teach the ukemi. The Standard Class It begins with the students lining up and everyone bows.  There’s a warm-up which will include some stretching, rolling and footwork movements. After the warm up the class will progress onto techniques in which:…

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Let’s take a moment to consider the job of a swimming coach. Swimming coaches have a problem that seems a difficult one to solve and that provides them with numerous issues when coaching their athletes. I’ve taken to referring to this problem in capitals. ‘The Swimming Coach Problem’. What is it? Since I’ve gone to the trouble of formally naming it what exactly is it? A swimming coach will almost always find themselves in a situation where they have a group of diverse athletes, all training towards the same goal,…

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The last post was on the concept of grade inflation in aikido and that it has led to overly high standards in non-japanese dojos. The big question though is whether or not there is a way to actually solve or at least alleviate the issue. I think there is and all it would require is a revamped grading system. There are a few ways that this could be done. Just get rid of it The first thing that we could do is abandon the grading system altogether. Return to a time when…

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I have previously alluded to a consequence of having high standards in our gradings. Standards that are higher than what they should actually be. That consequence is grade inflation. I’m not referring to people obtaining a higher grade than the one they should have, I’m actually referring to the opposite. Many people have a grade much lower than they should have. The unfortunate thing for these people is that the keys to unlock the door to the one they should be are always held by someone else. You need a higher grade…

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Let’s consider for a moment what the standard aikido teaching looks like. It’s a fairly uniform thing and I’ve genuinely never seen anything different to this. For the record I’ve trained in at least 8 different countries, over a period exceeding 20 years. I find myself wondering if there is a better way to teach. Every aikido student learns in the same way. The instructor calls a halt to training, everybody lines up in seiza. In really big classes they may gather around in a circle. The instructor then demonstrates…

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