A work in progress. A series of notes about learning how to teach aikido.
Last night, I taught my first class in teaching aikido. Three students came– two orange belts and one black belt. The smaller class actually made me feel more at ease– I feel less nervous working with fewer people. I have several years of experience in teaching private music lessons to individual students; maybe I’ve learned to be more comfortable in this setting.
In many ways, teaching aikido is very much like teaching instrumental music to me. Both involve teaching feeling. This is rather difficult, as I can’t jump into someone’s skin and know what the other person is feeling. With instrumental music, I look for the correct posture, correct positioning, and explain breathing, articulation, and fingering by means of similes and metaphors– “expand like a balloon” “say ‘dah’ as you begin” “feel the rings under your fingers.” There is constant feedback in the form of questions: “How does that feel?” “How can you change that to feel differently?” There is a lot of non-verbal communication as well, in the form of playing music by example.
With aikido, I also look for correct posture and positioning. Non-verbal communication also happens here, but there is more touching involved– in partner practice, there is trading off between being the attacker and being the person receiving the attack. There is the physical feedback in feeling when throwing and getting thrown, and the verbal feedback when asked “How does that feel?”
The two orange belts did a great job in responding to directions and staying focused. They seemed to be challenged but not frustrated, and responded in good humor. I really appreciated that.
Things for me to keep in mind:
*Concentrating on a couple key points of each technique
*Making corrections precisely when they need to be made
*Offering concrete praise often (“good footwork” “I like the assertive attack”)
*Coming up with enough techniques to fill the hour
To be continued. I hope more people come to class over the next few weeks so that I can learn from them too.