Teacher versus Instructor.

Teacher versus Instructor.

In Aikido, I feel both of these terms tend to be used interchangeably. I beg to differ. An active, serious aikido student — someone with 3+ years of consistent 3-4 X a week practice and seminar attendance (2-3X a year) — can achieve 2nd Kyu and maybe even 1st Kyu. Depending on your dojo size as well as how many teaching Yudansha there are, this is around the time where you may be asked to lead or instruct a class. Similar to starting out as a brand new aikido student, as a new instructor, you are shown and taught how to do the warm-up, how & what to teach and with many reps, you start to develop into an instructor. Basically, an instructor is more experienced aikido student that leads a class or two each week.

A teacher, or in Japanese martial arts, ‘Sensei,’ is different. Most schools have one or two teachers. Typically, the Chief Instructor and/or Dojo Cho. Sometimes one and the same. The teacher is the most senior in the dojo. And his/her role extends beyond just instructing a class. As a teacher, on a daily or weekly basis, I am thinking about things like:

• The Dojo (what can we do to improve it?)
• How to attract more students?
• Are students practicing safely?
• My students (who’s ready to test next?)
• My Sempai (Outside the dojo) who haven’t I talked to in a while
• Our Marketing (Social Media, Videos, etc.) What content do we need?
• Who needs encouragement on or off the mat?
• Who needs praise?
• Who needs some course correction?
• Is the rent paid?
• Is the power bill paid?
• What seminars are coming up?
• Who will receive the next Kenshin Recognition?
• Who will receive the next Budo Distinction?
• Am I practicing enough?
• How is my fitness lately?
• How is my nutrition?
• What can I do to improve as an Aikido student?
• What can I do to become a better teacher?

And so on and so on. You’ve heard the expression, “The buck stops here” Well, in every dojo, both instructors and teachers play a big part and without either, it’s very difficult to grow a dojo.

Jonathan Weiner
Jonathan Weiner

Weiner Sensei, Chief Instructor & Dojo Cho has been studying Aikido for over 20 years and currently holds the rank of Godan (5th Degree Black Belt) as recognized by the United States Aikido Federation and the Aikikai World Headquarters (Hombu Dojo, Tokyo, Japan). Weiner Sensei is also a Shidoin (certified senior instructor) appointed by the USAF and Aikikai World Headquarters. Weiner Sensei oversees rank promotion and testing at Aikido of Charlotte and has attended over 130 seminars in the past 20 years learning from many Shihan (Master Teachers). He also actively teaches Self Defense Workshops to corporations & organizations such as Newell, TIAA, Real Estate companies as well as various associations. His credentials also include NRA Certified Pistol Instructor, NRA Certified Range Safety Officer (RSO), and is a Certified Glock Armorer. Jonathan is the Owner of 360 Visuals, Inc. a Video Production Agency.

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