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This may sound like a strange title for a blog entry, and the grammar is a bit eccentric, as it refers to one person, me. I had no idea until a few minutes ago that I was going to use it. It is from many years ago, advice my teacher gave me.
I don't want to give the idea that sharing knowledge is a bad idea. On the other hand, I think it is revealing of our teachers as people, to see what kinds of advice they give. At the time I was a bit overenthusiastic, kind of like a St. Bernard or the collie that helped raise me as a kid. (My parents got a puppy and a kitten when I was 5, they had always had one dog and one cat...)
Yamada Sensei one day gave me a bit of advice, probably not asked for, either, "Just try to be the regular people." At the time he had what you could call cute English, and the dojo secretary at the time, the late sixties, was helping edit his first book (the one with the red cover one of my first students still wants to get...) and the secretary said it was too bad she had to make any corrections, because his English was so much clearer as to the meaning than the grammatically corrected version.
Francis Takahashi is very kind in answering comments on his columns, and once asked me which teacher had the most influence, I can't remember the exact words right now. It's a difficult question, but one way to look at it can be, if you spend years in the first dojo you attend regularly (in my case I had three months intro at college then looked up Aikido in New York where I was taking some graduate work at Columbia....) it can be a major influence in your life... Of course I'm grateful to other dojos and teachers, but your first dojo is often the place where you find out how important Aikido is going to be in your life, whether or not you can train actively throughout...
As I started to say sometimes beginners like myself can get a bit overenthusiastic. I'm not saying enthusiasm is a bad thing, but anyone who knows me knows I tend to talk a lot and need to tone down a bit.
Years later I began to see the other side of things, how it was to have an injury (in my case not from Aikido, a knee injury) or to have work and/or family obligations. So I wrote to Yamada Sensei as I do from time to time...
(He doesn't write back, he knows I should just go there, but there is always some reason I can't make it) So I once wrote, that now I understand what it's like to be "the regular people."
Chiba Sensei wrote in an article somewhere that we need to be grateful to our families, in the case of many of us our parents or others enable us to start a dojo or , as in my class, keep a Y class going, get insurance etc. go to seminars .... So my years in and out of Aikido have been a learning experience in many ways.
When I look back, there have been opportunities I have had a bit of guts to take advantage of. When the family publishing company downsized, I got into the building trades and that got me into a martial arts cultural exchange. But that's for next time.
I have regretted not being able to do much in the way of donation these days, but as a member of a large population of "regular people" I asked myself if there wasn't something I could do to help. Our church was getting donations to send to Japan, so I decided to donate a bit of time and maybe talent to the church, irrespective of who gave what, anyone could have an introduction to martial arts, a drawing or painting session, learn a little Japanese, or maybe a folk song from me .... just to share.
Years ago another one of our teachers Shuji Maruyama Sensei advised me not to show off too much about the Japanese language I was learning, that people would like me better if I didn't. So I intend to be "cool about it" but anything people want to learn about Japan, in our community it's free and I'm glad to share. By the way, Maruyama Sensei was the one who taught "funakogi undo" while teaching the chorus to the song Matsushima, imitating the boat rowers chant, which years later I taught the ladies of the Long Ridge Book and Garden Club. My former student who lives in Long Island wanted to learn it over the phone back then but she will just have to come visit.
The response to that little program on Japan I gave years ago at their meeting at the Long Ridge Firehouse really warmed my heart.
So try it, share a little in the community, you will get back a lot, and like a ripple effect it might help Japan in some way.