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My girlfriend lives in Troy, NY, so I occasionally find myself at the Aikikai dojo in Latham, Capital District Aikikai. They have a very nice dojo, and I've always felt quite welcomed there. It's also nice to feel the Aikikai style every so often. Anyway, on Tuesday there were no yudansha. I showed up a little late, and a guy with kyu rank named Rob was instructing the class. I haven't been there often enough to know everyone or for everyone to know me, and Rob and I hadn't met before. Still, he saw my hakama and came over and asked if I was yudansha and then asked if I was visiting the dojo. He seemed a little conflicted and a little embarassed, and then finally said, "well, I'm instructing right now." I said, "that's perfectly acceptable to me," smiled and got dressed and joined the class on the mat. At about 6:55, Rob came over to me and told me that he had to leave at 7:00 and he asked me if I wanted to teach the last half hour. Actually, he didn't ask me. He said, "maybe someone else can teach the last half hour ..." and so I volunteered.
It was interesting. I felt very off center as I started to teach. Actually, ever since making the transition from Seidokan to ASU, I've found teaching to be a confusing experience. I feel like I have one foot still back in the old world, and the other in the new world. I respect both traditions, and I wish I could show that respect by teaching my classes firmly in one tradition or in the other, possibly choosing to bridge between them when that seemed appropriate. Instead, I bring a mish-mash of stuff that often seems to have no lineage at all except my imagination.
They had been doing munetski, so I stayed with munetski. I taught them about the Seidokan idea of unbalancing simply by positioning and applying a soft touch. I mean, that's not a purely seidokan idea, but I guess the way I taught it felt Seidokan: non-martial, focused on gentleness, focused on natural movement. Then I taught them the ASU idea of simply coming in along the center line and using the directness of irime (and atemi) to unbalance uke. Again, I guess that's not purely ASU, but it is, nevertheless, ASU at its purest. I also taught them some other stuff, hopping back and forth like a jack rabbit between styles.
I wish my own ideas had been more crystallized because then I could have helped them see the differences and similarities of the techniques more clearly. As it was, I think they had a great time and seemed to enjoy the slight detour from their regularly scheduled programming. I know I had a good time, but I always have a great time when I'm teaching.