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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.
So, Jimmy was gone but I still had a small group of students. We practiced together for nearly a year during which time I obtained official sanction by Kawahara Sensei to establish my own dojo. He had some misgivings, of course, and commanded me to attend at least two seminars a year with him. Fair enough.
Near the end of the year I was running an Aikido program at the north YMCA. Two fellows approached me out of the blue asking if I would consider being their teacher. These fellows knew nothing of the group I was teaching at the Y, however. They had some knowledge of me through having observed a couple of classes while I was still running things at the school. They had just quit the independent Ki-Aikido offshoot dojo where the sycophantic students and the megalomaniacal teacher were training (see earlier installment) but wanted very much to continue practicing Aikido. So, they decided to see if I might teach them.
Immediately after leaving their Ki-Aikido dojo, they had gone to the school dojo expecting to find me there but ecountered T. instead. Apparently, one of the two fellows - named John - actually practiced with T but got a nasty roughing up when he inadvertently practiced with T's girlfriend. John had no idea when he trained for part of the class with this woman that she was romantically involved with T. It was only after T nearly dislocated John's shoulder in a sudden and unexplained moment of aggression toward him that he
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
I spent most of yesterday guest instructing at a "martial arts symposium" in a nearby town held by the local jujitsu club. I was one of four guest instructors: one from brazilian jujitsu, one from ninjutsu (who was teaching only tonfa techniques), one from wing chun do, and myself. I taught four, one-hour sessions with people rotating in and out of the sessions. It was actually quite a lot of fun!
I think there was altogether about sixty people who attended. It was quite a mixed bag. I taught tae kwon do folk, some hapkido people, lots of jujitsu practitioners, and some isshin ryu guys. They all seemed very willing to step out of their comfort zones to try out what I was showing them.
I work to have as martially-effective a style of Aikido as I can. This means I sometimes strike and kick and kiai; it means my movements are often small but produce big reactions in uke; it means if uke isn't unbalanced and moving all the time through my technique its no good; it means my techniques increasingly come from the ground and with whole-body unity. It also means that, to one degree or another, all those who trained with me yesterday were both baffled and surprised by what I was showing them.
I'm just starting to get a grasp on "stacking" myself when I stand in hanmi, on transferring energy through my body, on the mental game of energy direction, on working from the ground to power movements and exert control over uke, on using tendons to hold myself rather than muscle. Its