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We had a visitor to class. An older gentleman who'd studied Judo for 20 years. He came in shortly after warm-up wearing a black belt and a swagger as he checked out the class that rented the training hall after his. He slouched and stumbled to his feet with every technique when he wasn't laying with legs splayed towards the front. He talked much of differences and unrealities of aikido habits as he trained with our highest sensei for the whole night, who in turn engaged politely, and then he left just before end of class.
I'd sat in the corner that night and watched. I saw it all.
We had a visitor to class. An older gentleman who'd studied Judo for 20 years. His understanding had been growing about the complementary nature of different styles over the course of his training and his thirst to learn had drawn him to our class even though traffic had kept him late. He was conservative yet outgoing, smiling warmly as he was spoken to, yet claimed a corner of the room to be out of the way. His previous Judo training was a blessing and a curse that night, making aikido unbelievably different and difficult to grasp yet similar enough to stretch understanding by through exploration. He shared his delight and frustration with our most senior sensei, an older man of an open nature who put him at ease with welcome, relatability. He had to leave early, however, and bowed his way off the mat before slipping away.
I'd sat in the corner that night and watched. I then saw it all.
The subjective assumption of emotion. The limitation of the perspective of one. The same incident through vastly different glasses.
I'd started the class indifferent to this other there, and quickly became indignant as the rules that I'd assumed applied were broken one by one. I'd initially become almost furious at this other's refusal to 'empty his cup', to leave behind his status and treat this dojo and sensei with the utmost respect that I felt was a necessary precursor to being allowed in.
Then, as he turned to bow off and leave, I followed him. I talked to him.
Later, I realised. It wasn't his cup that needed emptying. It was mine.