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February 12, 2008

Fix Your Approach to Learning

A Short Instruction:

The purpose of this article is to practice and validate the Ki principles (Mind moves body) which are the foundation of Ki-Aikido in your daily life. Therefore, it has no meaning if you just read it without practicing it.

The fundamental method of mastering anything is practice. However, not just practice, but it is also important to validate how one has changed as a result of the practice.

It is easy to lose what you have learned without practice. On the other hand, you will never lose what you have learned through practice and validation. Therefore, please read, practice, and validate the contents of my article at least a month.


Fix Your Approach to Learning

Among those who have been training a long time in Shin Shin Toitsu Do and Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido, there are many who set their sights on becoming instructors. It is marvellous that they wish to be of service in the world by putting the things they have learnt into practice.

Those of my students who are aiming to become instructors often ask me to show them how to instruct. Although I would like to satisfy their desire to know this, I must tell them that I cannot.

This is because it is not any ‘method of teaching’ that is the important thing in being an instructor; the important thing is to master one’s own approach towards learning.

After I give a lecture, I occasionally ask audience members questions such as these:

With what facial expression did I conduct this lecture?

In what order did I explain things in the lecture?

Where did I stand while I was instructing?

Can you tell me roughly the size of my writing on the whiteboard?

The vast majority of the participants cannot answer these at all. For beginners, it may be difficult to notice that much detail. However, it is another story for all those aiming to become instructors.

Since I am actually demonstrating instruction in front of them, it is a great waste not to be observing it. Because they have the learning approach of a student they are not observing my method of instruction. Most of all it is indispensable to have the learning approach of an instructor.

I would like to share with you an experience that had great value for me.

It was when I was first receiving instruction from Tohei Sensei as an uchi deshi. My first task as an uchi deshi was to be Tohei Sensei’s otomo or personal assistant at one of his lectures. The lecture ended as a great success and I performed my duties properly. No, it was just that I had the impression that I had performed them well.

Afterwards, there was a request for a lecture from a person who had attended this lecture. As we could not adjust Tohei Sensei’s schedule for him to give this lecture, they asked us to send a lecturer from headquarters in his stead, or failing this, anyone at all. Tohei Sensei said to me, “Right. You go.”

I replied, ‘Thank you. But I don’t have any lecturing experience.’

Then I was told by Tohei Sensei, ‘But I demonstrated for you, didn’t I?’

I received a terrible shock.

This was because I had been thinking that being an otomo meant to be by Sensei’s side and to attend to him and for this reason, I had not been watching how he was giving his lecture!

Tohei Sensei said, ‘You have to become able to do things when they are shown to you once.”

I remember him explaining this to me.

Since then, whenever he has me be his otomo, I have come to pay deep attention to Tohei Sensei’s way of instruction: with what state of mind does he lecture, in what position does he stand, how does he look at the audience, in what order does he deliver the lecture, how loud is his voice? In a decade, he has had me be his otomo at more than a thousand lectures and seminars, and this experience is an asset that I would not exchange for anything.

There has not been a single time when someone instructed me in lecturing and instructing methodologies. The one and only thing that I was taught was the learning approach of an instructor. I am very grateful that I was able to be taught this learning approach right from the start.

Not being ready to learn is like collecting water in a sieve. No matter how much water you pour in, the water does not accumulate. First of all, fix your approach to learning and then pour in the water. You will be in the state where the water will accumulate. For that purpose, what I am conveying to all those who aim to become instructors is not any method of instruction, but the learning approach of an instructor.

Even for those who are not instructors their approach to learning is very important. Although it is important to decide on what to study for the acquisition of degrees, the most important thing is to fix your approach to learning.

[Things to practice]
Observe your approach to learning and take a record of where you are at
Give three things you think are important in approaching learning.
Put those three things into practice.

[Things to validate]
In what way were there changes to your efficiency in studying?
What kind of changes were there in your approach to teaching?

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