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Go Back   AikiWeb Aikido Forums > AikiWeb AikiBlogs > Seeking Zanshin: Blood, Sweat, Tears & Aikikai

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Seeking Zanshin: Blood, Sweat, Tears & Aikikai Blog Tools Rating: Rate This Blog
Creation Date: 02-24-2005 11:53 PM
jducusin
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One small gal + a dojo full of big guys = tons o' fun
Blog Info
Status: Public
Entries: 272 (Private: 12)
Comments: 195
Views: 534,749

In General Training in Toronto: Overall Impressions and Thou Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #85 New 01-01-2004 09:38 PM
[First of all, let me begin by saying that for all intents and purposes, I will only give an account here of my experiences from my perspective as a student, insofar as how these affected my own learning. Though I have been asked to do so, I do not believe that any generalized or comparative assessment that I might make of a teacher's Aikido technique in itself can truly be considered reliable since I am simply not at a level of ability or knowledge in this art to do this with sufficient discernment. This said, it is for this reason that I will only go so far as to compare teaching styles and methods at this time in the hopes that even though I will disappoint some, I might be of help to others. ]

Initially, I found myself experiencing a bit of apprehension upon going into two new schools as a visitor; you could almost call it performance anxiety to a certain extent --- a slight worry that I might really slip up big-time, make a stupid mistake and embarrass my home dojo. When I thought of it this way, I felt like I ought to make a really good impression, as if I were representing my school in a sense. Thankfully, folks were so welcoming that it would help put me right at ease.

Once on the mats, adaptations had to be made right away...literally. At both schools, they had the thinner, more dense kind of foam mats, and having trained on ones twice as thick at the home dojo for so long I naturally had no idea how drastic the difference would be. From my very first roll, I could feel that I would have to make a great many adjustments --- the "bumpiness" of my rolling became quite apparent --- the mats certainly weren't as forgiving as the softer ones from the home dojo. But then, I also realize that considering we do so much more breakfalling and ukemi practice in general at our dojo than they seem to do at the others, having the softer mats at ours definitely makes sense. Oh, which reminds me --- although my rolling didn't feel up to par initially, I guess my breakfalling must have been alright because I got complimented on it quite a bit (should make my Sensei proud ).

I guess it would be nice to have even just a strip of the harder kind of mat at the home dojo, say along the edge of the regular ones, for example, to practice on just to get used to rolling on and adapting to a different-feeling surface more often. In future, upon coming to a place with a different type of mat, I would definitely take some time initially to get a few practice rolls in just to make my adjustments beforehand and get used to rolling on the new surface.

What wasn't much of a surprise was the differences in teaching styles I encountered: some being more or less verbose than others, some being more or less physically-demonstrative, others being the kind that would rely more on arranging the student's body into the correct form or posture. I'm guessing that reliance on this latter kind of teaching stems a great deal from a language barrier (be it natural or imposed), in contrast with the more verbally-descriptive style of teaching that falls back on this physical arrangement rarely, and more as a last resort (when all other methods of relaying information fail/are misunderstood).

Although I'm aware that simply putting the student into position may be an easier way of showing them correct form (especially with a blind or visually-impaired student), I personally found it more difficult to retain a memory of how to put myself back into that position afterwards. I believe that the body retains a kind of memory of its own, in which it keeps record of the way certain movements and positions feel. When you are given the ability to move yourself into a different position (either from auditory or visual instruction), it seems to create a distinction between these in your mind because you consciously make the decision to move and can pay attention to how it felt to move; whereas when someone else does the moving for you, your impulse is to pay more attention more to what they are doing instead of how you feel. Or at least this is my best guess as to why this is the case.
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