Funnel Class Curriculum

I’m dumping this lesson plan here so you can see how and what I’m trying, which will include updates and results. This lesson plan is for a funnel course, which is an introductory course designed to onboard people into the regular Aikido classes so that they would be more likely to continue into the regular classes. I will be running the pilot of this April of 2020, but if someone tries it before then, please let me know how it worked out for you! 

Big shout out to the collaborators on the Discord server that helped tweak and provide feedback, as well as ideas for this course.

Take a look at these extra resources for designing classes: 

1. Gagnes 9 Events Instruction

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1uYlq96UCOpYT7tFSOGvsNWBC34TZdB2H/view?usp=drivesdk

Source: Northern Illinois University, Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center

2. Blooms Taxonomy

https://elearningindustry.com/bloom-s-taxonomy-applied-to-football

Feel free to use this, or shoot me a message if have suggestions on improving this course!

The biggest issues that newcomers run into are (according to a survey run by an Aikido organization in the UK):
  1. Not knowing what to expect.
  2. Feeling lost and overwhelmed.
  3. Confusion with the Japanese terms and etiquette.
This is due to the way classes are structured, where newcomers join an established class. This kind of onboarding is problematic because of two reasons:
  1. They are missing the basics and will be learning in an out of order fashion, increasing confusion about the culture within the dojo, what is expected of them, what to expect out of class, and the techniques. This confusion can cause a feeling of being overwhelmed and insecure, making them less likely to attend another class.
  2. If every time a newcomer joins, you revert to dedicating the class to the very first basics (such as how to stand, fall, move their feet, stretch, etiquette etc.), established members may end up being bored and it hurts their expectations of what they would like to get out of the class.
Given the above information, this funnel course should achieve these goals:
  1. Manage expectations, both for themselves and about the classes.
  2. Prepare newcomers for the standard classes, should they wish to continue.
  3. Familiarize them in a well constructed curriculum to the Japanese terms, dojo culture, and etiquette.
  4. Build trust, a rapport, and feeling of community.
  5. Build strong self motivators via training self signaling. Self signaling (a thank you to collaborator Jakob Blomqvist for first introducing us to this idea) are ways to give you give your body physical cues to reward itself for doing what you wanted it to do, and therefore be more likely to do it again. It’s the basics of positive reinforcement, except in a training/coaching context. You see it when tennis players or golf players pump their fists, shout “yes”, or other athletes do “victory laps” or “victory dances.” Good self motivators have strong self signaling habits that focus on the accomplishment. Very often, people harp and beat themselves up when they do something wrong, but rarely focus and reward themselves for the things they do right. Self signals have to be something the person can do on their own eventually, so that even when the instructor is not around, they can give themselves those physical cues.

(On self signaling: When I was first potty training my oldest, I would clap and congratulate my daughter if she used the potty on her own.

The first time I did that at my parents’ house, my mom stared at me like I sprouted three heads and said, “She’ll expect others to clap and congratulate her for using the bathroom if you keep doing that. You want her to use the potty because it feels good for her to do it, for herself, not because she thinks she’s making anyone else happy. Just like when she tells the truth, you should always build on the fact that telling the truth feels good on its own. She can clap for herself but you shouldn’t clap for her.”

It was the implication that I should develop her ability to intrinsically reward herself for doing the right thing, rather than look to external rewards/pleasing others. This anecdote, while not in a training context, is a good reminder why building positive self signal habits is important.)

This funnel course will:
  1. Run for 5 weeks—one day a week. 
  2. Low cost.
  3. No gi necessary. (We received input from Lia Suzuki Sensei, director of Aikido Kenkyukai International USA who said that providing a free dogi with a funnel class increased conversion. Depending on what your dojo resources are, you can decide what to do for this. Thank you Suzuki Sensei for your input!)
  4. Be advertised for 4 weeks before the actual course begins. Facebook ads, Craigslist, and local town community boards. 
  5. Run four times a year, Feb, April, September, and November
  6. No new additions to classes permitted after the first day for this course. Established members may join this class for free, if they wanted a refresher course.
  7. For students 15 years old and up. 
  8. Online waiver form for sign up purposes. 
  9. Business card with techniques and checkboxes on the back side for course students to take home so they may review videos without worrying about remembering the names.
  10. Short entry/exit survey at the beginning/end of the course.
  11. 1 hour and 15 minutes per class. Classes are designed for 60 minutes but allow the extra 15 in case it goes over time.
  12. Syllabus provided at the beginning of the course. Syllabus has been completed, feel free to copy here
Goals for each class:
  1. Learn 3 new physical things each class. (1 attack, 1 ukemi, 1 technique.)
  2. Review the information from the previous class.
  3. Be focused on skill development first, but then heighten heart rate for the last 5 minutes of class.
  4. Trigger self signaling to build discipline and motivation at the end of class, after the heightened heart rate session in order to link the feeling of accomplishment with the hard work aspect.
  5. Roundtable conversation to build rapport and get to know one another after each session.
  6. Use Line technique especially when you have an entire class of new students. It prevents instructors from having to flit from group to group since that can waste time, rather than just having the instructor working in the line with the students. No more than 5 to a line. Big thank you to collaborator Yulie Simonovis for developing this teaching technique! We at the LIA deployed it a few weeks before the course began with the new students that joined the monthly membership with great success.
1st class – Etiquette and 1 wrist throw (60 minutes, with 15 minutes extra alotted.)
  1. Make sure everyone has filled out the online waiver form and entry survey. (1 minute, more if people did not fill out the waiver. Entry and exit survey may be talked about after class.) 
  2. Hand out 5 week syllabus. Explain that at the end of the course, they can sign up for regular classes if they wish to continue training.
  3. Sit in a circle, everyone introduces themselves. Do NOT make them bow when getting on the mat. Save that for the etiquette discussion. (3 minutes)
  • Ask: Name, where they’re from, why they decided to sign up for this course.
  • Ask: Has anyone done a martial art before? If so, what? 
  1. Hand out a piece of paper and pen/pencil to everyone and have them write their names and put down what they would like to get out of this course and Aikido. (2 minutes)
  2. Have everyone share those expectations if comfortable. Then place those expectations in a jar (or other safe place) and let them know you’ll pull them out at the end of the course to re-examine them, see if their expectations have changed, and/or if it has met their expectations/is on its way to meeting their expectations. Respond to those expectations with explanations (most likely for health, culture, self defense, trying something new, social). (5 minutes)
  3. Begin with the Japanese/Dojo etiquette:
    1. (1 minute) Explain what to do in case of an emergency for:
      1. Fire
      2. Health
      3. Bathroom
      4. Who to go to if you have an issue in regards to your partner or instructor.
    2. (1 minute) Explain where all the facilities are
      1. Changing rooms
      2. Bathrooms
      3. Medical kit
    3. (2 minutes) Explain the equipment/gear
      1. Gi
      2. Hakama
      3. Belt (color/rank)
      4. Bokuto/Jo/Tanto (allow them to touch/feel them)
      5. Name plaques
      6. Kamiza and O’Sensei
    4. (5 minutes) Explain the etiquette of
      1. Hygiene and safety (short nails, tie up long hair, no jewelry or watches, keep body free of offensive odors.)
      2. Bowing when getting on and off the mat
      3. How to sit and bow (Seiza, and what to do if they feel uncomfortable or pain in this position.)
      4. Where to place your shoes.
      5. Bowing into class and out of class and the Japanese terms associated with it. (“Rei”, “Onegaishimasu”, “Arigato Gozaimasu”)
      6. Explain the etiquette of kneeling and moving to the side when an instructor is demonstrating. Explain the various signals (such as a clap) when an instructor is asking for everyone’s attention.
      7. Explain the meaning of words of ranks (Kyu, Dan, Sensei, Shidoin, Fukushidoin, Shihan)
      8. Explain the etiquette of cleaning after class.
    5. (2 minutes) Explain how classes run
      1. Explain the normal format of classes in order (bow in, follow stretching exercise if instructor is doing it, instructor shows techniques, students practice, end class and bow out)
      2. Explain the uke/nage dynamic
      3. Explain how techniques are usually practiced (4 throws then switch, left and right)
    6. (2 minutes) Get everyone up off the mat. Run through the taking off shoes, bowing toward the kamiza, walking on, lining up for class, bowing in.
    7. Begin class (22 minutes)
      1. Wrist stretches (3 minutes)
      2. How to stand (Hanmi) (1 minute) 
      3. Pair off
      4. 1 attack (Katatetori ai hanmi) (1 minute) 
      5. 1 fall (Backfall) (4 minutes)
      6. Line technique
        1. 1 technique (Kotegaeshi) (12 minutes)
        2. ***Instructor should do kotegaeshi with each of the attendees so they can feel it in their own wrist, and how it should feel on someone else.***
    8. Increase heart rate session (5 minutes)
      1. Increased speed kotegaeshi from a grab
    9. Self signaling (walk it off around the mat with verbal cues of calming down, feeling accomplished etc.) (3 minutes)
    10. Roundtable discussion, request a comment or question about class from each student. (3 minutes).
    11. Explain what they might feel the next day (Prime them for it in a positive way: You might be sore but it’s a good kind of sore—the kind that tells you that you worked hard and are pushing your body.) and some self care tips. (1 minute)
    12. Bow out of class. (1 minute)
    13. After class: Fill bucket and have everyone wipe down mats.
    14. After class: Hand out business cards with techniques/grab/fall checked off and the date written so they can take it home and have a record of what they did today.
  4. Send out email congratulating everyone on a successful class. Reiterate contact information and a “see you next week.” Let them know they can friend request you and shoot you a message on Facebook/social media if they have any questions or concerns.

 

2nd Class – Review previous technique, introduce kneewalking and One Pin
  1. Bow into class and sit in a circle.  Ask if anyone has any questions, comments, or request for clarifications about the previous class now that they’ve had some time to digest it. Ask about how they felt after the class. Iterate that you are happy to see them and they should be proud of themselves for coming again when they could have chosen to stay home. Ask what they found most difficult about the first class. (5 minutes)
  2. Explain the structure of this class, what you’ll be reviewing (wrist stretches, back fall, wrist grab, kotegaeshi), and introducing them to today (full body stretch, shomenuchi, ikkyo, best way to take ukemi for ikkyo.) (2 minutes)
  3. Begin full body stretches starting from the wrist to review. Explain there are variations depending on whose class they are taking so to follow the instructor’s lead. (4 minutes.)
  4. Review backfalls. Then pair off and review kotegaeshi from ai hanmi katatetori. (5 minutes)
  5. Introduce knee walking. (4 minutes)
  6. Introduce Shomenuchi strike. Have them practice it individually. (1 minute)
  7. Introduce  Ikkyo and the ukemi. Practice with each of the attendees (line) so they understand how it feels. (7 minutes)
  8. Line up and train at regular speed. (15 minutes.)
  9. Switch to suwariwaza shomenuchi ikkyo. (5 minutes)
  10. Stand back up speed it up with multiple attackers to increase heart rate. (5 minutes)
  11. Walk it off, self signal training—deep breaths, raise their hands, clap three times, and have them tell themselves they did an excellent job and that they’re really doing food for themselves. “It feel good to be moving and learning something new.” (3 minutes)
  12. Sit in a circle, have everyone share a comment or a question. Talk about looking forward to seeing everyone the next class. Remind them that they might feel sore (but it will be a good kind of sore) and reiterate self care tips. Hand out new business card with techniques they learned today checked off. (3 minutes.)
  13. Line up and bow out of class (1 minute.)
  14. Wipe mats.
  15. Hand out business cards with techniques/grab/fall checked off and the date written so they can take it home and have a record of what they did today.
Class 3 – Review previous techniques, introduce a throw that utilizes forward rolling ukemi (Morotetori Kokyunage)
  1. Bow into class and sit in a circle.  Ask if anyone has any questions, comments, or request for clarifications about the previous class now that they’ve had some time to digest it. Ask about how they felt after the class. Iterate that you are happy to see them and they should be proud of themselves for coming again when they could have chosen to stay home. Ask how they feel now after having taken two classes. (3 minutes)
  2. Explain the structure of this class, what you’ll be reviewing (full body stretch, ai hanmi katatetori kotegaeshi, shomenuchi ikkyo), and introducing them to today (forward rolls, sumi otoshi.) (2 minutes)
  3. Review full body stretch. (3 minutes.)
  4. Review knee walking. (4 minutes)
  5. Pair off and review katatetori kotegaeshi and shomenuchi ikkyo (only standing). (7 minutes)
  6. Introduce forward rolls, first from the knees and then standing. (10 minutes)
  7. Introduce sumi otoshi and line up and train at very slow speed. (18 minutes.)
  8. Speed it up with randori to increase heart rate. (5 minutes)
  9. Walk it off, self signal training—deep breaths, raise their hands, clap three times, and have them tell themselves they did an excellent job and that they’re really doing food for themselves. “It feel good to be moving and learning something new.” (3 minutes)
  10. Sit in a circle, have everyone share a comment or a question. Talk about looking forward to seeing everyone the next class. Explain they might feel sore (but it will be a good kind of sore) and reiterate self care tips. Hand out new business card with techniques they learned today checked off. (4 minutes.)
  11. Line up and bow out of class (1 minute.)
  12. Wipe Mats
  13. Hand out business cards with techniques/grab/fall checked off and the date written so they can take it home and have a record of what they did today.
CLASS 4 – REVIEW PREVIOUS techniques, introduce 1-6 of jo kata(or any jo kata).
  1. Bow into class and sit in a circle.  Ask if anyone has any questions, comments, or request for clarifications about the previous class now that they’ve had some time to digest it. Ask about how they felt after the class. Iterate that you are happy to see them and they should be proud of themselves for coming again when they could have chosen to stay home. Ask how they feel now after having taken three classes. (4 minutes)
  2. Explain the structure of this class, what you’ll be reviewing (ai hanmi katatetori kotegaeshi, shomenuchi ikkyo, ukemi, morotetori kokyunage, knee walking), and introducing them to today (jo kata.) (2 minutes)
  3. Full body stretch. (2 minutes.)
  4. Review backfalls and forward rolls and knee walking. (3 minutes)
  5. Pair off and review katatetori kotegaeshi. (3 minutes)
  6. Review morotetori kokyunage. (3 minutes)
  7. Review shomenuchi ikkyo. (3 minutes)
  8. Stop review, explain the rest of this class and the next will focus on Jo and Bokuto now that they’ve been introduced to the basics of the empty handed portion. (1 minute)
  9. Introduce the Jo. How to hold it. (2 minutes)
  10. Have everyone follow 1-6 of Jo kata (for us, it’s part of Koichi Tohei’s 21 Jo kata.) (26 minutes)
  11. Walk it off, self signal training—deep breaths, raise their hands, clap three times, and have them tell themselves they did an excellent job and that they’re really doing food for themselves. “It feel good to be moving and learning something new.” (3 minutes)
  12. Sit in a circle, have everyone share a comment or a question. Talk about looking forward to seeing everyone the next class. Explain they might feel sore (but it will be a good kind of sore) and reiterate self care tips. Hand out new business card with techniques they learned today checked off. Explain the next class is going to be the last class and will be a special class since you’ll dedicate it to learning bokuto. (6 minutes.)
  13. Line up and bow out of class (1 minute.)
  14. Wipe mats.
  15. Hand out business cards with techniques/grab/fall checked off and the date written so they can take it home and have a record of what they did today.
CLASS 5 – INtroduce bokuto paired work and examine the expectations they wrote down from the first class.
  1. Bow into class and sit in a circle.  Ask if anyone has any questions, comments, or request for clarifications about the previous class now that they’ve had some time to digest it. Let them know it’s the last class of this introductory course and they can sign up for the regular classes if they’d like after class. (3 minutes)
  2. Explain the structure of this class, that you’ll be working on bokuto stuff today and examine the slips of paper they wrote at the beginning about what they hoped to get out of this course and Aikido. (2 minutes)
  3. Introduce the bokuto. How to hold it, to draw it, to cut with it. (8 minutes)
  4. Go through Hagihara-sensei’s 1-6 bokuto attack and defense of 21 paired kata (derived from Tohei’s 21 jo kata.) (10 minutes)
  5. Pair them off and lead them through switching between attacking and defending. (12 minutes)
  6. Pair off with each of them to speed them up. (11 minutes)
  7. Walk it off, self signal training—deep breaths, raise their hands, clap three times, and have them tell themselves they did an excellent job and that they’re really doing food for themselves. “It feel good to be moving and learning something new.” (3 minutes)
  8. Sit in a circle, explain you guys will now take a look at what they wrote at the beginning of the course. Everyone will take their own and share whether or not their motivations for learning is still the same and/or if they feel it was met by the course/if Aikido would fulfill it for them. Explain it’s absolutely okay it does not, and let them know you’re happy they still tried it, even if they don’t think it’s something they would like to continue with. As everyone to share their favorite part of the course, and their least favorite. Let everyone know you are happy to have met them and hope to see them again. (6 minutes.)
  9. Line up and bow out of class (1 minute.)
  10. Hand out business cards with techniques/grab/fall checked off and the date written so they can take it home and have a record of what they did today.
  11. Sign anyone up who wants to go to the regular Aikido class.
  12. Send out an email reiterating you were happy to meet them. Let them know how they can sign up for the regular classes if they wish to, and how to contact you if they have any questions.