Doran Sensei has a long-standing rule at Aikido West. It is, "No Talking In Class" or as he sometimes puts it "Shut-up and Train!" Another way of phrasing it is "No Instructing In Class." It is a simple rule, but one that even he has found difficult to consistently enforce. Periodically he has to remind his students. It's been a while since I've asked this, but it appears that we need to remind everyone again.
Please understand that for all your good intentions, many times what appears to the "helper" as an attempt to generously help a new or lower ranked fellow student is really hindering their training and development. Also, I see it as an act of rudeness to me as Sensei and Dojo-Cho of Aikido North, whether it happens in my classes or in the classes of the people I entrust the instructor's role to. Remember, there is only one instructor in class, and that is myself or the person I have assigned to teach that class. And please don't say, "Oh, Sensei must mean someone else. It couldn't be me." It is you!
However good your intentions, it shows a lack of respect for the rules, for the individual responsible for teaching, and for the student who, unasked, is being told what to do and what not to do. But aside from correcting this lapse in etiquette shown to the instructor and your fellow students, there are other reasons for this rule:
- It very often frustrates and intimidates the person you are trying to help.
- It can confuse them if the "help" is contrary to the lesson or explanation given by the instructor.
- Students need to learn how to learn. This won't happen if they are being force-fed information. Even when help is asked for, sometimes it is best for the student to be told, "figure it out". And this is for Sensei and his instructors to decide.
- We as students of Aikido all need to learn sensitivity and to constantly remind ourselves that we need to be sensitive to the people we touch. "Helping" shows a lack of sensitivity and awareness on the part of the "helper", which ironically is very obvious to the person receiving this "help."
- "Unwanted help" weakens the students' trust in the dojo and their fellow students, when our goal is to build a safe environment for people to learn and grow.
It is not your responsibility to help unless that person specifically asks you for help. And that help should be given only for that specific situation, and only for that specific question.
Please be aware of your actions. Help your fellow students by learning to be sensitive to your partners' needs and feelings. Help them by being an outstanding example of a true Aikido Student and a caring person. Help them by learning to do your techniques the best you can. Help them by being the best uke you can.
You don't have to talk/instruct/tell-someone-what-to-do, to help people. They can learn best from the example you set, so be a good example. Be the best Aikidoka and the best person you can be. Help me keep our dojo members, not drive them away.
Out of respect for your fellow students and me, please Do Not Instruct in class.
Calvin Koshiyama, May 8th, 2006, Aikido North