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I teach Aikido at a small dojo in Winnipeg, Canada. Been doing so for many years now. This blog is just a collection of ruminations on teaching, descriptions of the events of daily practice, and the occasional funny story.
It was just the older guys and the newbie tonight. So, instead of a night of thrashing and pounding I slowed things way down and had my students practice a series of opening tai sabaki against yokomenuchi for the entire class. I think the older guys appreciated this brief respite from the usual vigor of practice. I think they also liked the depth to which I went in explaining the mechanics of the various sabaki -- except maybe the new guy, Jeret. At one point, he asked, "Can I punch him now?" with such a note of hopefulness in his voice that I chuckled a bit. I think he felt some of the fun of practice was gone when no one was being hit or flung to the mat.
I've noticed that people have their own particular practice habits on the mat. For instance, last night after each time I interrupted the older guys to explain something, they always resumed their practice with more or less the same exchange:
"Um...whose turn is it?"
"Yours, I think."
"Really? I thought it was your turn now."
"Hmmm...maybe...No, I think you've got a couple of reps left."
"Oh, okay. Did we do the left side last?"
"Yeah, er, no, it was the right."
"Right? The right side?"
"Right, then. Okay."
And so on.
They also had this strange "stance dance" that appeared to be part of their lets-resume-practice ritual. They'd both get into gyaku-hanmi and simultaneously realize they ought to be in ai-hanmi. So, they'd both switch stances and find themselves again in gyaku-hanmi. Then they'd switch a third time, but one would realize mid-switch that if he didn't stop his switch he'd be in the wrong hanmi again, so he'd suddenly do this riverdance-like foot change and reverse his stance. I'm not sure why, but this seemed to trigger off a few moments of rapid foot switching on the part of both guys that looked sorta' like someone was shooting the ground at their feet with a six-gun. Finally, after several moments, they'd get themselves arranged and practice would begin again. Whatever gets you going, I guess.