Which class? by Andrew Williamson Sensei

You must constantly assess where you are at in your training and what you should be doing, which classes you should be attending and who you should be training with. After a grading it is particularly timely.

We have three main class levels of training:

1. BASIC CLASSES: these are geared towards developing beginners through their first 2 levels of grading. The sensei’s focus is on these people. The training while useful is slower and simple; we will teach the beginners and lower grades first. Our aim is to ensure that we cover the rokkyu and gokyu syllabus and to a certain extent yonkyu. But another important aim is to get students up to a level where they train comfortably in the GENERAL classes.

2. GENERAL CLASSES: these cover a range of techniques and the instructors are free to
explore Aikido. The techniques covered can be anywhere over the range of syllabus from rokkyu through to dan grades. I think these classes are around 50% harder than the BASICS, you will move more and train harder. These classes are often smaller than the BASICS or ADVANCED and students get more individual attention. The classes are biased to help the kyu grades develop [from yonkyu to ikkyu], in particular ukemi and an understanding of kihon waza [basic technique].

3. ADVANCED CLASS: this is geared towards the yudansha [black belts] but I stress anyone can attend – we have had people from gokyu regularly coming to this class. The emphasis is on developing yudansha and those in the higher kyu grades should be regularly coming along. The training in this class is more intense; out of say around 20 students 15 or so will be yudansha.

You need to pick which classes you should be focussed on attending. Which is not to say that you shouldn’t come along to other classes, of course you can and you are welcome.

But to advance you should not miss out on the classes which are important for your level. For example, if your next grade is 3rd kyu then your main diet of classes should be “general” ones. If you are a shodan and wish to grade nidan then come along on Sundays. If you don’t attend the classes you need your technique may stagnate and you certainly will take longer to reach the next level than someone who trains more strategically.

So please take this time to think these issues through and even discuss it with an instructor. Plan your training timetable to give you the best opportunity to develop and do this NOW!