Aikido Kobayashi Dojo

Aikido, My Way.

Part 7 Kobayashi Dojos Teaching Policy

Other Aikidokas asked me why it is that only my dojos have expanded.

Why is it that the number of dojos grows along with the membership?

One reason can be that I’m not so strict when it comes to techniques and encourage spontaneous movement.  O Sensei also did this.  He didn’t explain details but felt that one progressed by repetition.  Anyone should improve naturally with repetition.  It’s boring to concentrate on very small details.  All kinds of people practice in the dojo – young and old, men and women, so I don’t like to take one kind of approach.  I also like to ask how the student is doing.  Maybe they are not extending enough, or maybe the foot position is causing a problem and I offer an advice, “How about doing it this way?”  This allows the student to understand better.

For just about everything this holds true.  If a person reaches a certain level, it’s obvious.  If not, any advice from strangers only adds to the confusion.  It’s important to instructors to stand back and to watch over the student until a certain level is attained.

Then there is the important matter of what to teach beginners.  It’s very difficult to teach a beginner who has absolutely no knowledge of Aikido.  For example, we say stand on right or left hanmi, they don’t know what that means.  For those people, how do we explain Aikido?  At first we need to teach how to grab the hand and how to stand, cause them to feel interested in these movements.

When I was teaching at the Hombu Dojo, I had a lot of older people and beginners come to my classes; they’d say “its easy to understand”. I really feel it’s important to encourage beginners to continue so I tried to teach in a manner that was easy for them to understand.  This experience was valuable for me when I started my own dojo. 

During beginners’ introductory period, I mainly want to practice without injury. There are some rough people as well and if I warn them with strong language they don’t understand why they are being warned.

When doing throws, they need to develop their wisdom of how to avoid danger, how to do the throws, what direction it should be.  When there are too many people for the space, throws need to be done by students in groups of three or four.

Kobayashi Dojos have developed a method for teaching beginners.  First, warm-ups followed by basic stances, falls, turns and Aiki taiso are introduced.

There are all kinds of people who come to practice.  There are people that have quick reaction times and others who don’t.  There are people who have had other martial arts experience, thinking that other arts are not suitable for older people and that Aikido might be better. So there’s no one simple standard for teaching everyone. Beginners should practice without worry; we should have them remember the techniques until they are able to do them automatically. Each member needs to be treated as an individual and allowed to practice one day at a time.

The reason Kobayashi Dojos have been able to grow perhaps owes to the above factors.

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