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Recently I had the honour to help out 2 training partners to obtain an official teaching certificate from one of our national organisations.
Now I don't have a special love for organisations. To me it seems they often don't contribute a lot and have a tendency to grow into institutions that mainly seem to hold people back and limit what one is doing. Just the sheer amount of organisations is already a sign of something fishy going on. Why does Aikido have the reputation of being the martial art with almost more organisations than dojos?
As for teaching, I do see the benefits of having a program where aikidoka learn how to teach. Having some kind of obstacle preventing just everybody from teaching is not a bad thing. Shifting the perspective of what you are doing is also very important and can contribute to further growth and development.
Having said that, I do think there are several major pitfalls when people become teachers. The first and obvious one is that they lose Shoshin, the mindset that is open, eager and free of preconceptions wants to learn. In most people's training shoshin is under constant attack. Simply they idea of already knowing a technique closes the door to further learning and development.
A teacher should not lose shoshin. A teacher should pull open the closed doors in the mind of his students. Always, whether they are nage or uke.
How can organisations contribute to the development of Shoshin?
There is much to be said about ukemi, but I have observed from close that there is difference between understanding ukemi and talking about ukemi.
As a beginning one should always be aware the gift of ukemi that uke is giving you is priceless, so treat it as a precious gift, be grateful for being offered this gift and show this gratitude by training open, honest and respectful. And offer ukemi to your training partners.
Following that, one should realise that ukemi is more than 50% of your aikido, more than 50% of your techniques and more than 50% of all that you do. This is too often not clear to those that are training. This not from malice or ill will but from not being exposed to good ukemi.
It is very tempting to see how much of a technique you can resist or frustrate. Yet in the end all you were building was your own dojo superpowers and you weren't helping your partner, even though you thought you were. But worst than that, you weren't helping yourself and cheating your partner out of an opportunity to learn.
One often hear people claim Aikido is about love, about harmony. That aikido is life. Yet as uke they train without harmony. They haven't learned the difference between uke being alive and uke being dead. As uke they don't give, but expect to overtaken, to be conquered. Why is it harmony if nage gets his way?
I have been fortunate. All my teachers have told me to do ukemi. Not as an obligatory part of training, not as a necessary evil to be undergone
During class I jokingly tell people that the only difference between an advanced student and a beginner is that advanced students are better in covering up their screw ups. I know this is absolutely not true and I want my fellow students to discover that this isn't true.
Persistence is what shapes the student. Just showing up, putting on your gi and stepping onto the mat is all it takes. Weird part is that for a lot of people this can be the hardest part of Aikido. Still, all the places I have trained had one thing in common: you are welcome whether your last training was yesterday or long ago.
One thing I wonder about, and I know my teachers did the same, is whether everything can be taught independently or whether a certain level experience and physical training is necessary to be able to be taught more advanced stuff. Are shortcuts possible or not. I know there isn't consensus about that among aikido teachers.
I believe that you have to learn to be fluent in your technical repertoire to be able to let go of that technical repertoire and look beyond. I look at aikido the same way I do look at language. Techniques are the aikido equivalent of words. If you don't know the words it will be nearly impossible to write a nice story. So learn the words. The words however aren't a story yet.
How come I cannot do what you do? Because you are learning words. No use being flabbergasted by my story in which the evil stepmother happily lives ever after. Learn the words and
Today again training. Lovely place to meet a lot of new people. Somehow this seminar benefits from having the good portion of the aikidoka, aka the crunchers and other nasties were absent.
My knee is a bit sore so I have to be carefull not to overdo it. Suwariwaza is a big no-no still...even though I want to do it but I guess being thickheaded and doing suwariwaza anyway is bad. Luckily I am surrounded with friends that take care of me (aka they remind me I am an idiot and shouldnt do suwariwaza)