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Last week I had a nice experience. Knowing there were exams at our dojo and I was asked to be uke. Now normally people are paired during the exam so that there isn't a big difference in experience. This was different as there was a huge gap. The person doing the exam is ex-military, unfortunately burdened with PTS which manifests itself in a disruptive fear of hurting someone. Aikido has a very strong impact on his well-being and he has progressed a lot already in trusting himself during aikido. Up till now however, doing exams has been one bridge to far for him.
So here I was, being uke at the exams and the one really important task I had was to make him feel safe. No matter what happened, he had to feel safe. Soft, compliant, happy and friendly. Smiling moving along with whatever he did, and he did well. Halfway through he realized he was doing well, a smile came on his face and he loosened up even more.