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A few days ago Sensei asked me what I thought about the speech he gave in class. The speech he was referring to was when he was talking about studying Aikido to become a better person. I emailed him back with the following response:
In the 5 years I've been at Shinkikan, the past week or two have been the best. Honestly, I've gotten to the point where I don't even think I'm studying Aikido, but rather people. Of course Aikido is important, but I think I could go anywhere to study Aikido. I could read a book even. But there is a value that is implied at Shinkikan that can't be bottled! I used to study Aikido when I started at Shinkikan, but the long term effect of staying at Shinkikan has led me to really ask what Aikido is. I'm fortunate enough to understand the answer is always changing. It's like asking a fish to describe water. The water is everywhere around it and none of it is the same. I suppose it's the same as saying Ikkyo is different every time, even if it's with the same person. It's good to have a place like Shinkikan where instructors really care about the effect they have on their students.