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rupert
13th October 2001, 13:47
Is it just me that thinks the syllabus from Honbu is an odd assortment of techniques that must have been chosen at random,like throwing them up in the air and letting them fall on the floor, closest one is 6th Kyu, furthest 1st Dan etc? What do you think about the organisation of the syllabus? Any other interesting layouts for syllabi floating around?
For example, one school I used to train at called ai-hanimi katate-dori 'first form' and for 6th Kyu you had to do 'first form' everything - all the techniques. 'Second form' was gyaku-hanmi katate-dori, and guess what 5th Kyu demanded? First and second form everything. Certainly made everything easy to remember.

Excalibor
14th October 2001, 02:28
Mr. "rupert",







I'll take the chance to remind you that it's customary that we sign our posts with our full name...







Regarding your post, I am not sure I fully understand it.







My training in Aikidō has been in a different way, although I understand there are many ways of doing things.







There's a kihon (ie. basic) way of doing waza. As an example: Ai-hanmi katate-dōri ude-ōsae (ikkyō). It's the basic way of doing ikkyō. There are many others, but this is the most basic, the one used to teach it and learn it.







Nikkyō, however, is: gyaku-hanmi katate-dōri kote-hineri. Again, it's the easiest way of doing this technique.







This allows one to learn the host fo principles these techniques teach, which are the basis of all Aikidō and all other Aikidō techniques, of course.







Doing all techniques from ai-hanmi katate-dōri is not basic for all techniques. Ikkyō. yonkyō and gokkyō are easy from this attack, nikkyō and sankyō require a lot of complex tai sabaki, irimi nage is relatively easy, but tenchi nage or sumi otoshi requere, again more complex preparatory movements.







On the FEJYDA examinations for gokkyū, you are basically asked for ikkyō, kote geashi, irimi nage and shihō nage from ai-hanmi katate-dōri and shōmen-uchi. Yonkyū examinations add more techniques and attacks, while sankyū examinations include ura-waza as well.







However the method you mentioned is not unknown for me, by a senpai of mine's recommendation, I had my classes planned in a similar way: every month there was a new attack (on the broad sense: frontal, diagonal, back, both sides... usually with one specific attack for each, striking or grabbing...) and techniques were divided by weeks, so on week 1 of that month, we practiced "ikkyō" and "gokkyō", "irimi-nage" and "ude kime nage"; on week 2: "nikkyō", "shihō nage" and "tenchi nage", and so on, over the current attack. However this was after they were all exposed to the kihon form. Week 5 (only a few months have 5 weeks) were reserved for "exotic" techniques for low rank students, like koshi nage or juji garami. Also, this all was for training purposes, detached from examinations programs, but they were eventually well exposed to all their examination requirements (on a 5-6 months period) for 5th, 4th and even 3rd kyū (ai-hanmi katate-dōri, shōmen uchi and tsuki; katate-dōri and yokomen-uchi; ryōte-dōri, ryō-katate-dōri, [or morote-dōri] ura waza, mae-geri...)







Of course, there are techniques more important than others for each level, depending on which principles the student must concentrate on... This must be discerned on a personal basis.







And I am reasonably sure Honbu must have a methodology to organize the syllabus and the examination requirements, and probably it inspires many Aikikai groups and federations own texts.







Hope this helps, best regards,







David S. de Lis



FEJYDA Dept. of Aikido (IAF Spain)

rupert
14th October 2001, 03:52
So the Hombu syllabus is designed to be easy? Forthe lower grades I might agree, but for the higher ones, 4th Kyu and up etc., it does seem rather mixed up to me.
Another school I trained at categorised everything yet another way, by the attacks. I guess there must be other interesting ways to categorise a syllabus in a way that is easy to learn / remember. In Tomiki style they have lots of katas for example. Yoshinkan have interesting methods too - Ai-hanmi is for imrimi techniques, gyakky-hanmi for tenkan - at least where I trained that's how they did it (but that's getting into training diffrences).

Rupert Atkinson
Aikiaki Style, Seoul

Excalibor
15th October 2001, 16:40
Originally posted by Excalibor

There's a kihon (ie. basic) way of doing waza. As an example: Ai-hanmi katate-dōri ude-ōsae (ikkyō). It's the basic way of doing ikkyō. There are many others, but this is the most basic, the one used to teach it and learn it.

Nikkyō, however, is: gyaku-hanmi katate-dōri kote-hineri. Again, it's the easiest way of doing this technique.

<snip>

Doing all techniques from ai-hanmi katate-dōri is not basic for all techniques. Ikkyō. yonkyō and gokkyō are easy from this attack, nikkyō and sankyō require a lot of complex tai sabaki, irimi nage is relatively easy, but tenchi nage or sumi otoshi requere, again more complex preparatory movements.


I'm not sure in what I was thinking when I wrote this. While nikkyō and sankyō may be easier to perform from gyaku-hanmi katate-dōri, the kihon is from ai-hanmi katate-dōri, undoubtedfully... It's actually the way to teach new students that they are all basically ikkyō at one level, while they are very different from each other at another...

My apologies for the confusion...

Respectfully submitted,

David S. de Lis
FEJYDA Dept. of Aikido (IAF Spain)

rupert
17th October 2001, 12:38
Well, I guess by the lack of response that most people must be happy with the Aikikai syllabus. It must be just me.

Rupert Atkinson,
Seoul.

P Goldsbury
17th October 2001, 15:48
Originally posted by rupert
Well, I guess by the lack of response that most people must be happy with the Aikikai syllabus. It must be just me.

Rupert Atkinson,
Seoul.

Mr Atkinson,

I read all the posts on this thread and suggest that perhaps people might have been put off by your initial post. I have a Hombu syllabus and I can see a certain logic, you know, a blend of basic techniques and basic attacks of increasing complexity/sophistication, depending on the grade. You characterised the syllabus as an "odd assortment of techniques that must have been chosen at random, like throwing them up in the air and letting them fall on the floor". Are you sure we are referring to the same syllabus?

Here in Hiroshima we use the printed Hombu grading syllabus only as a basis. But I am not sure whether I have understood you. Are you concerned with the order of techniques demanded (according to kyu grades), or the supposed randomness of the syllabus, considered as a whole? Please understand that I am not saying that you do not have a point; I am not quite sure of the point of your initial post. Some of what you say seems to relate to the question of naming techniques and of classifying them.

For example, when I tested for shodan, I was not asked to perform specific techniques. Rather I was asked for a specified number of techniques against specific attacks, through suwari-waza, hanmi-handachi, tachiwaza, followed by attacks with weapons and taninzu-gake (multiple attackers).

It all followed a certain logic, so I am not sure if I have understood your initial post.

Best regards,

Peter Goldsbury,
_____________
P A Goldsbury,
Graduate School of Social Sciences,
Hiroshima University

rupert
18th October 2001, 00:47
My idea of a good syllabus is onethat is both logical to learn and logical to remember. Once you have done the Honbu syllabus for a couple of years or more it slowly begins to make sense but I just think it could be a lot better (from a beginners point of view). In the UK, we would only have a grading once a year which meant that some people didn't learn certain techniques for years - because they didn't have to. It was when I realised this that I began to ignore the syllabus completely, except for grading purposes, like a week or so before. I make it a rule to teach all the techniques to beginners and introduce about ten attacks early on. And it is not like thre are a lot of them. In Ju-jutsu I remember having to do 25 techniques for my first white belt grading. In Aikido, learning just ten might get you to black belt (well, almost) so the sooner you get them under your belt, so to speak, the sooner you start to get used to practicing them. With this method, I found that my students could easily look at the syllabus, decide what they didn't know, ask someone, and practice it. Often, they just seemed to know all the techniques for their next grade without ever looking at the syllabus. Also, it keeps the student's attention away from the syllabus, and on learning Aikido for Aikido's sake (not the syllabus, like in so many other schools). Anyway, I guess I am saying I think the design of the syllabus is just awful, in my opinion.

Rupert Atkinson
Seoul

Mike Collins
18th October 2001, 01:33
Funny thing about logic when applied to categorizing things. Everybody has a different logic, it seems. If you doubt that, take people's computers away from them and replace them with a new and different operating system. They'll swear that the guy who invented THIS msih-mosh was Satan himself, there is NO logic to it, like in the last system they used.

Same thing with something as varied as technique. One guy's logic is another person's random conglomeration of stuff. And, just like with a computer, if you stop imposing YOUR logic on it and learn the logic that is in place, it has a way of revealing it's intelligence.

Or Not.

Jeff Hamacher
18th October 2001, 02:30
Originally posted by rupert
My idea of a good syllabus is one that is both logical to learn and logical to remember. Once you have done the Honbu syllabus for a couple of years or more it slowly begins to make sense but I just think it could be a lot better (from a beginner's point of view).
i'll echo Prof. Goldsbury's comments on this, Rupert: in what way is the Hombu syllabus of which you speak so "illogical"? in what specific way(s) do you consider it difficult to learn or remember?

i grant you that at first aikido's structure is a little tough to grasp, especially with all the new terminology. i started training in japan and i thought that my inability to follow my teacher's instruction was the result of not knowing the language very well. however, my japanese teacher who introduced me to the dojo in the first place admitted that even as a native japanese speaker it was pretty tough to grok.

on the other hand, i think this initial confusion is part and parcel of the way that aikido training works. in my experience, everyone trains together doing the same techniques and attacks. of course, senior students may be told to do the technique sitting or to perform henka whereas junior students do only the basic standing technique. sometimes the teacher will divide the class into smaller groups based on ability. some larger dojos (such as the Hombu or Endo-sensei's place here in Nagano) hold beginners' classes to accommodate those needs. however, i think that usually it's "everyone in together". more on this below ...

In the UK, we would only have a grading once a year which meant that some people didn't learn certain techniques for years - because they didn't have to.
now this is interesting. in the dojos where i've trained here, tests are held quarterly, and the university club holds them almost monthly. if a student attends class regularly (4-6 hours a week) there really isn't anything preventing them from successfully attempting their kyu tests at every quarter. surely there are enough qualified instructors in the UK to hold kyu tests more often than once a year; do you know of any reason why they weren't more frequent, Rupert?

returning to my point above, everyone training together means that even beginners will get exposure to techniques that don't appear in their kyu tests for quite some time. it strikes me as strange that a novice aikido student would practise only the techniques required for their test and wait to study "everything else", especially if they only had tests once a year. my experience with jo has been much the same: i train according to my teacher's assessment of my progress and i learn new material when he feels i'm ready. i already know all of the material for my first test which i won't be able to take until march of next year, but that doesn't stop me from learning more.

(...) it keeps the student's attention away from the syllabus, and on learning Aikido for Aikido's sake (not the syllabus, like in so many other schools). Anyway, I guess I am saying I think the design of the syllabus is just awful, in my opinion.
i agree that day-to-day training should focus on aikido for it's own sake, or perhaps training for training's sake, and not on test content. some concentrated preparation before a test is a good idea, but otherwise just train.

i'm beginning to suspect, Rupert, that your disenchantment with the "Hombu syllabus" may be the result of a misperception. good aikido training depends upon the skill of the teacher. a skilled teacher will know how to structure regular classes and present the various techniques of aikido in a logical way. if a student trains under such a skilled teacher then the test content will be nothing more than a few examples of aikido technique that the student knows well and can perform consistently. i don't mean to criticize your teacher(s), but somehow i can't help but feel that your introduction to aikido just wasn't as good as it might have been. looking forward to your responses.

PS Peter, any insights you can offer would also be appreciated.

rupert
18th October 2001, 05:04
In what whay is the Aiki syllabus illogical people ask? Does that mean everyone but me thinks it is logical? Maybe! As for me, I see no logic at all. One of my mini-enlightenments was to chuck it out as a training aid. I view it as a grading sheet only, to be brought out at a grading and used to order the students what to do, by which they are judged.

Of course, for a beginner, any system, even a logical one, would be confusing but I think that the present order of things serves to complicate things rather than help the process. To make it easier to comprehend, I think its important for students to get introduced, in the first few months, to basic techniques such as ikkyo / nikkyo / sankyo / yonkyo / gokyo and irimi-nage / tenchi-nage / kaiten-nage / shiho-nage / kote-gaeshi and various simple kokkyu-nage stuff, and concepts like irimi / tenkan / sokumen. Each technique from different attacks introduces the attacks etc. You can't do every technique from every different attack of course, it takes time to get used to it. Of course, in the beginning it is a bit confusing but the whole picture will become clearer sooner. And then students might ask: "What about irimi-nage from ushiro-ryote-dori?", getting the idea from a perceived gap in their knowledge, rather than an item on a list called a syllabus. And since there are only these ten or so basic techniques I don't think it is an impossible feat for a beginner to learn them resonably in a few months. The sooner you have a go at them, the sooner you get used to them. At one extreme, I have been in some dojos where they only do grading related stuff (only doing your next level waza), and dojos where they mostly are glued to the syllabus etc. I hate both. I prefer dojos where the teacher does all kinds of things but according to certain principles. I think the aikikai syllabus is a mish-mash of stuff that could be better organised, but its not really for a lowly pleb like me to say how.

In the 1980s (BAF) there were not many high grade instructors in our organisation and we had to wait for an external one to arrive to do a grading, typically, once a year. If you missed it, tough luck. It was possible to grade more often but it didn't really seem important. I know several people who have trained over ten years and still wear white belt (in the BAF it's black or white only). We were quite happy just to practice and have some fun. People often had no idea what grades other people had, nor did they care. Average time to black belt might be 4 - 10 years, training regularly. It is quite different in other places of course. Thesedays, everywhere I go money seems to have become the motivation for everything - maybe that's why ...

If you really want to know what I mean by logical, which is kinda hard to explain, try Wing Chun. It is extremely logical, easy to understand, easy to learn, easy to remember - and my have influenced my thinking about Aikido somewhat.

As an extra, beyond beginners, I like to say that irimi-nage is not a technique, but a shape. If you call it a technique it has solid form, which becomes unchangable for some people (the we do it this way brigade), but if you call it a shape, and in an interaction with your partner that shape appears (from how you are positioned in realtion to each other) then you can move into irimi-nage type movement, and while doing that, if uke alters your movement so that you recognise another shape, say kaiten-nage, then you can just move into that instead.

Rupert Atkinson
Seoul

Graham Wild
18th October 2001, 06:35
Rupert I think you have just visited some bad dojo's. I mean if people are only learning Aikido to get a belt then there not really learning Aikido
You are right on the mark with what you said at the beginning of you last post the grading syllabus is just that a grading syllabus not a training aid.
As for the grading syllabus (I hope I have the right one, as I am a Yoseikan Aikidoka) it has the first 3 techniques that are taught in the Aikikai, ikkyo, irimi, and shiho, all from attacks that allow you to preform them with a little ease.
Next you show the fourth technique (nikyo) also from a simple attack, and shiho nage from the next difficulty level of attack.
Next you have to expand on your original ikkyo and demonstrate ikkyo to yonkyo as well as kote gaeshi from its basic attack, in both sitting and standing which are related. Then shiho increases in difficulty again with ryote tori, and you are to preform tenchi from its basic attack and irimi also increases in difficulty with a tsuki as the attack.
It continues on like this all the way through and it seams very logical to me, first the core Aikido techniques from there most basic attacks. Then move on to more difficult attacks while doing techniques from there most basic attacks.
This is probably the way the Aikikai teaches as well and it seams to be a logical way to teach so why not.

Jeff Hamacher
18th October 2001, 07:07
Originally posted by rupert
In what way is the Aiki syllabus illogical people ask? Does that mean everyone but me thinks it is logical? Maybe! As for me, I see no logic at all. One of my mini-enlightenments was to chuck it out as a training aid. I view it as a grading sheet only, to be brought out at a grading and used to order the students what to do, by which they are judged.
you still haven't answered the question directly, but i think that this last post gives a clear indication of what you consider to be good aikido training, and i agree with most of what you say. i think that Graham's description of progressive testing requirements is also in line with my aikido experiences.

when it comes down to it, Rupert, i think that Graham said it best: it's not the Aikikai test requirements that are at fault, it's poorly structured day-to-day teaching which may have been part of your experience in the UK. everything that you said about beginners getting exposure to a wide variety of techniques (even if at first they don't understand them) mirrors my post upthread. everybody training together means that beginners will get that exposure. if you've had teachers in the past who used the test requirements as their sole curriculum guide (or "training aid" to borrow your words) for regular teaching then i can only conclude that they were misguided in their approach. i really don't think that Aikikai or its test standards themselves are to blame for your dissatisfaction.

asiawide
18th October 2001, 16:49
BTW, what's the use of 'test syllabus'?

1. Is it for test requirements?

'Ok. you passed. Go to the next level!' ?

2. Is it a guideline of learning techniques for teachers and students?

T : 'Ah.. I should teach these things in series'
S : 'Oh.. I should concentrate on these things in series'


IMHO, rank test is so much like car driving test. It just say
that you may drive a car, but it doesn't mean that you
drive well. So rank test is just a test, and syllabus
is just for that. That's why I don't care for the rank test
and the techniques in it.

In the beginning of a new semester, I got many syllabus
from teachers, but I and all other students simply ignore it.
It doesn't matter whether it's logical or not because it's
made to be ignored anyway.

So Rupert and Others are all right. :)

Jaemin
Seoul

Anne Marie
18th October 2001, 20:05
I have been training at an Aikikai school for over the past year and half, and I have been receiving exposure to a wide variety of techniques. I have been exposed to techniques beyond the testing requirements.

The testing syllabus is a group of techniques that the sensei can watch you perform to see if you are at the level of 5th kyu, 4th kyu, 3rd kyu, etc. Just performing them at each rank is not enough. If that's the case I could be 3rd or 2nd kyu by now. It's how well we perform them according to skill level expected. For example 5th kyu, my sensei is just looking to see if you can do the technique and can do basic ukemi (such as rolls.) At 4th kyu, he is looking to see that you are beginning to understand the principles behind the techniques and that you can perform ukemi better than the 5th kyu level. Your ukemi should begin to demonstrate that you understand the importance of connection with nage. 4th kyu includes suwariwaza in the testing requirements. We learn it at the earlier levels, but at 4th kyu you are expected to demonstrate some competence in suwariwaza additionally suwariwaza shows how well you can move from your center. At 3rd kyu he is looking for more fluidity and more advanced ukemi -- not just being able to do breakfalls but also understanding how well you stay connected to the nage and more so than you did as 4th kyu. He also looks to see that you understand the principles (extension, weight underside, balance, moving from center). He is also looking how well you understand different entering movements and variations of the same technique. For example we have to demonstrate different ways of doing morotetori iriminage. The degree of skill and depth of understanding needs to increase with each increasing rank. All this is demonstrated by doing the techniques on the syllabus. If you don't demonstrate this you either don't test or you are failed.

This doesn't mean that all the techniques you should learn are the ones on the testing syllabus. It just means that these are the techniques you need to learn to demonstrate how well you understand them, and to demonstrate your level of skill. A 5th kyu is not expected to perform them at the 1st kyu level. In fact the 1st kyu test could have the same techniques as the 5th kyu test but if you perform them like a 5th kyu you won't pass. You must still perform them like a 1st kyu.

In short what I'm says is that there is more to the testing syllabus than knowing the techniques. It's your demonstration of skill behind those techniques what matters.

At least that's my understanding. I am only 4th kyu so I might be misunderstanding some things or not explaining them as clearly as I should.

Anne Marie Giri