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I've had a week of good practices. Last week, on Thursday, I got mad as hell at my instructor, but we worked things out pretty quickly. In short, I was honestly confused about something, and he thought I was deliberately holding a contrary and incorrect view. We almost argued about it, with me getting very angry that he wasn't understanding me; his attitude was very closed. This was all before the class actually started. After bowing in, and demonstrating the first technique we were to work on, my instructor took me aside (probably noticing that I was rather angry) and we worked out the problem that was confusing me. He apologized for his attitude, I learned a bit more about ukemi, and class was good from there.
In the course of almost four years of training with my instructor, I've gotten really upset with him two or three times. Each time, we've been able to quickly get to the heart of the problem, solve it, and move on. There is a lot of mutual respect in our relationship. Some would argue that confronting one's instructor is disrespectful. In some circumstances (as when studying a koryu art) it is. But aikido is a modern martial art, and I'm practicing it in America. With that in mind, I think it is disrespectful to not confront my instructor. Obviously, I don't attack him, and I don't pick a bad time (like during class). Instead, I pick a good time and as calmly as possible present my complaint. This approach has worked well dealing with co-workers, family, my wife, etc. It's comforting that I can practice conflict resolution in an "aiki manner" with my aikido instructor too.
Last Saturday, my instructor had Rich (the other 3rd kyu) and me finish leading class because he had to leave early. Before he left, he officially told the class that once somebody reaches 3rd kyu, he considers those people to be assistant instructors. So now there are four of us. With summer here and our instructor away at different points on vacation, we'll have a lot of opportunity to lead (a better word that "teach") classes.
This is additional responsibility, but Rich and I have been helping and even leading classes for a while now -- long before the test. It's more responsibility, but not more pressure. Our instructor doesn't expect us to teach at his level. Everyone understands that what we teach is sound, but if we don't understand something, we'll table it for later and ask our instructor at the next class.
Truth be told, I'm very excited to have official sanction to lead a class. In the past, I've ended up instructing when I simply meant to have an open mat session (in which I'd supervise, offer some hints, and work on stuff that I need to work on). The problem in one instance was that all of the people who showed up for the open mat session were so new, they didn't know what to do without instruction. Now, I can purposefully lead a class with the instructor's explicit permission. I enjoy teaching quite a bit. I'll enjoy learning how to teach aikido too.
Saturday after class, I picked up the blue belt that my instructor ordered. It didn't bother me much to not have it, but it was annoying to be the only person wearing a plain white belt at practice.
Tuesday's class was great. We worked on two concepts at once: (1) what happens if your initial body movement is inappropriate for uke's attack, and (2) what if he has a knife? It was an interesting class, and it was nice to do something other than the standard kihon waza.