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I teach Aikido at a small dojo in Winnipeg, Canada. Been doing so for many years now. This blog is just a collection of ruminations on teaching, descriptions of the events of daily practice, and the occasional funny story.
I've got a few minutes on my hands so let me provide another brief installment in the story of my Aikido journey. Let's see...where was I? Ah, yes, Jimmy - my first, very own student.
Jimmy (not his real, chinese name) was an asian fellow near my age, fit, and very eager to try out what I was doing. He was also a somewhat recent immigrant to Canada and so retained a very Chinese attitude toward the teacher-student relationship. This meant he was very willing to do anything I asked him to do, without question, and with enthusiasm. I showed him basic rolling, tai sabaki and technique (shihonage, kotegaeshi, iriminage, kaitenage, ikkyo), which we practiced together.
Jimmy hung with me for about six months. I think he would have stayed with me longer if I hadn't trod upon his cultural toes. Christmas rolled around and in celebration of the season and as thanks for my teaching Jimmy bought me a bottle of Crown Royal Whisky. I got the distinct impression that he thought we should have opened the bottle right when he gave it to me and had a glass of it together. Problem was, I'm a teetotaller; I've never had a drop of alcohol in my life! I cringe inwardly even now thinking of the awkwardness of the moment. Flustered, and wanting very much to avoid the awkwardness of the situation, I thanked him, put the whisky in a sports bag I had with me and abruptly departed. The look on Jimmy's face spoke volumes and none of them filled with anything good, I think. I saw him one more time for practice after receiving his gift at which time Jimmy asked me what I thought of the whisky he'd given me. I would not tell a lie, so, couched in profuse thanks for the gift, I confessed that I had not actually had any of it because I never drank alcohol. Jimmy looked at me like I had just told him I'd cooked and eaten my grandmother! The following training session together was uncomfortable. I knew in some way obscure to me that my not drinking alcohol was quite offensive to Jimmy. And that was the last I ever saw of him.
Fortunately, during the time Jimmy trained with me several other people took an interest in what we were doing and joined us for training. Even though Jimmy quit training I was not back at square one. I had a small group of students who were all quite eager to join me for a time on my Aikido journey. The proverbial "ball" was rolling! Domo arigato gozaimashita, Jimmy!