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Seeking Zanshin: Blood, Sweat, Tears & Aikikai Blog Tools Rating: Rate This Blog
Creation Date: 02-24-2005 11:53 PM
One small gal + a dojo full of big guys = tons o' fun
Blog Info
Status: Public
Entries: 270 (Private: 12)
Comments: 195
Views: 817,074

In Teaching The Bend in the Road Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #261 New 03-17-2010 04:30 PM
I know that for some, becoming Shodan has marked the end of a road. On the contrary, if there is anything that the milestone has done so far, it's confirmed my belief that not only does the road continue, but that the terrain has changed drastically.

What was once a guided path, well-worn and meticulously tended with helpful markers along the way has suddenly become a faded trail rising ever more steeply through a dense and mysterious forest. And if it wasn't already difficult to find my way through this dark and foreign place, there is an ominous mist settling around me - I am being engulfed by a thick fog…of doubt.

Am I being overly melodramatic? Perhaps. But the metaphor is more apt than you might think. For what I am referring to is the recognition that I will soon be called upon to assume the role of teacher.

Already? You may ask yourself. Well you see, we are a very small club. I guess we always have been, for the most part, at least in the time I've been a member. And by "very small" I mean that including myself there are only five students practicing regularly - seven, if you want to be really liberal about the definition of "regularly" (as I suspect some students are). So aside from Sensei, I am now the only other Yudansha on the mats.

Consider as well that Sensei has been teaching for almost twenty years now out of necessity, ever since he was Sankyu(!). Through a matter of circumstance, it got to the point where if he wanted to practice, he had to become the teacher. As a result, for nearly two decades, he has taught at the expense of his own training.

Imagine his optimism upon discovering that finally, he has been able to produce students who have either just attained Shodan or are on the verge of doing so. So his primary goal over the past year has been to get Jeremy and I to Shodan so that he can finally take a break and just train for a change.

So I can't say as I really blame him. He's already sacrificed so much for our training - given up on jobs so that he could keep evenings free for class, dug into his own pocket time and again to make up the shortfall in dojo rent, etc. And as I've already mentioned, he's even tolerated having me as a student. Penance enough, I'd say.

Not to mention there'd be distinct advantages to us students for our "Dojo Cho" to resume training - the foremost one being that we will be brought along with him as he increases in skill; any new knowledge will ultimately trickle down and get transmitted to us in the end. In addition, there's a good chance that in the near future it will work out that if I want to continue training in Aikido, I will have little choice but to teach. Well, at least for a 9+ month period of time…

In the end, it's in light of all this that I naturally desire to gift Sensei with the training time he deserves and in turn, give something back to the club for all I've taken. The fact is, a lot of folks come through the club unwittingly taking without giving back; ignorant of the fact that - in a club as small as we are - their attitude has a huge impact on the dojo.

But I digress. The real problem is: what, exactly, am I giving back? Am I ready for this much responsibility? At least I recognize that it is a privilege that carries with it the weight of putting the training of others first before my own; a responsibility, not a right. I suppose that's why I take this all so seriously.

Am I ready to have people looking to me for answers? A better question might be: will some of them even believe I could have anything to teach them? I can't help but feel like a concert's opener before the featured band comes on. After all, they're all coming to class and paying their dues to see him teach, not me.

Can I rise to the occasion? We'll see.
Views: 2368 | Comments: 2

RSS Feed 2 Responses to "The Bend in the Road"
#2 03-19-2010 01:51 AM
Linda Eskin Says:
I'm going to guess that you'll do perfectly fine. By the way, at our dojo most of the yudansha teach. I've been in classes taught by at least 10 of them that I can think of at the moment. Yes, classes with Sensei are special, but each of the others brings something new to their classes. I really enjoy training with all of them, and benefit from the variety of perspectives and explanations. I'm sure your dojomates/students will have the same experience when you teach.
#1 03-17-2010 07:08 PM
I think becoming a shodan is finally entering a life-long marathon that you have been training for (the kyu ranks)... however, you are the only participant in the marathon.

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