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Many years ago I told a brother student of mine, a kohai I think, but we didn't talk about who was junior and who was senior, I probably was. Anyway, there we were at Hombu and there was this teacher, I was in his Sunday class, you just paid a little more extra and you could practice seven days a week. And I really liked his class. Somehow I told "Rocky" about how he encouraged people who were shy, especially the young women, high school or college age.
I noticed a group of them at the back and there was Watanabe Sensei and he gave them a real pep talk to get over their shyness:
"Nani ga asonde iru? Mottainai jikan!" What are you doing? Time is valuable! I don't quite know how to translate asonde iru, it could actually mean "goofing off" in this context, but the American phrase is way too strong. The young women were just shy about their practice, they often tilted their heads to one side after a technique as if to say they weren't sure they understood it right, or had done it correctly. Watanabe Sensei I'm sure was trying to cure them of this kind of hesitancy about their practice.
I hope he doesn't mind me quoting him, I think I got it right. He was very kindly, always, he just kind of made a bit of a bear expression with his eyebrows to get our attention.
One time I was practicing with someone and I noticed him watching us. So we slowed down a bit. Then we glanced at him and he had a bit of that bear scowl, so we slowed down. It got to be a bit more of the bear scowl so we stopped. Then a sort of sigh mixed with a slight grunt and he demonstrated the technique.
I think I asked him later why he didn't just correct us right away.
He answered, some people just like to practice. He seem to say not everyone wants corrections. Personally, I found his classes fascinating . Rocky did too, and when we spoke with him he thought the nickname was funny pointed to Rocky and said
"my baby" as if Rocky were a baby bear, because Rocky wanted permission to study with him at his other teaching venues too.
Unfortunately due to jobs he needed to pursue in order to stay in Japan he wasn't able to take Watanabe Sensei up on his kind offer, but at least Watanabe Sensei knew we appreciated his teaching.
I remember he only spoke with me directly once or twice. People sometimes went to a nearby coffee shop after practice and sometimes he was there, often stirring his coffee, by himself. He didn't speak English, but sometimes a young woman was there who could translate. He gave me a piece of advice You are a big person it looks silly if you make small movements. Another piece of advice was something on the order of varying the pace, fast or slow, or even gentler or stronger.
the techniques, what I remember somehow reminded me of an airplance, why I don't know. He would often do the spinning irimi nage while tilted forward over the uke, who was spinning. I'm not sure why I thought of airplanes. technique is so hard to describe especially years later. But hopefully I brought some of it home with me along with the others. And as for encouraging shy students, he was an excellent model.