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I suppose I should be gratified, and I am. But faintly disturbed as well.
I have two fairly senior students. Both are dedicated practitioners of Aikido. The other day I had them doing a Jiyu Waza in which my instructions were to not think of each other as uke or nage, but simply do their best to throw each other. I was looking for them to challenge each other and do so without getting into the spirit of competition.
They were really good! I watched, they did the Jiyu Waza. They challenged each other. The pushed their own limits. They threw each other around. They smiled the whole time. The achieved a level that I knew I was incapable of.
I can't do what they just did.
It is, in fact, a limitation in my Aikido which has been bugging me for almost a year now. I've been working on it, but I've also been nursing a knee injury which has prevented me from working on much of anything.
They did that better than I could.
Certainly, there are some things about Aikido - a lot of them - that I understand and can do better than either of them. But in this one area, they've both surpassed me. And I taught them how to do that.
How'd I do that?
I minded of an old expression whose attribution I've long since forgotten:
"The faults we recognize in others are often a reflection of our own self-knowledge".
I wonder if this is why these two are so good at something that I'm struggling with. Because I can spot when they are struggling with it because of my own personal struggles. On the one hand this would be comforting. Of course they will exceed me here. On the other hand, what does this say about my own personal development?
Maybe now that my knee is finally (mostly) healed I need to get serious about fixing this problem.
Okay, but I know I can't do that with my students. It's too easy when I'm throwing them around, even if they don't just take the falls for me. I know them too well. I know their reactions. I can anticipate anything they will do. It's something I've realized is inevitably going to happen with a teacher and his students.
I guess this means I need to find some other black belts to play with. Yep, that's it. What a good excuse to increase my training schedule!
(Now, if I could just stop getting injured and sick long enough to actually do that. )