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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 have had the opportunity - many times - over the years to field inquiries about practice at my dojo. Generally, they are the same sorts of inquiries: How much? How often can I practice? Do I need a gi in order to start training? And so on. Usually, the inquiries are brief, to the point, and involve only one or two exchanges.
Frequently, a potential student will make initial inquiries, establish a time at which they intend to come to the dojo, and then not show up. Okay. Happens a lot. No big deal. But then there is a new e-mail from the absent, wanna-be aikidoka; one that apologizes for not coming and expresses a deep desire to want to show up for practice soon. Time passes and this would-be student still doesn't appear. In his place, however, another e-mail appears. It contains more apologies and new proclamations of intent to train. Nonetheless, he remains absent.
I've often tried to make sense of such people. Probably, I shouldn't bother. It just seems so odd to me, though, to go through such a lot of apologizing and promising for nothing. Usually, people come to watch a class, realize they don't want to do it, lie to my face about how they thought what they'd seen was "neat" or "impressive," even ask how to join, and I never see them again. I don't much care for the polite lying, but I do prefer this approach to the protracted one I've described above.
Anyway, can I encourage anyone who is reading this and considering joining a dojo to not make overtures tow
The first time I tried randori I was just third kyu. For some of you that may seem a bit early for randori; for others of you it may seem a little late. In any case, the first time I tried to do randori I had only the sketchiest idea of what it involved. What I had grasped of the concept and practice intrigued me and I was hell-bent to give it a try.
I showed up to practice one day not long after discovering randori and found that I was the senior person on the mats. It fell to me to "lead" the class, which I did, straight into randori. I think part of me was itching to see if my Aikido actually worked, so I didn't put much in the way of restrictions on how randori played out. Basically, as I understood it at the time, randori was more or less a sparring match. The attackers attacked as they liked, and the defender defended with Aikido technique until he could no longer do so. Remember now, I was only third kyu and had never done anything like this before. Unfortunately, my fellow students had fairly extensive training in other martial arts like tae kwon do, karate, and kick-boxing. Consequently, I got a royal beating. I fractured a couple of molars (It took two bottles of 222's and a week and a half for the pain from my molars to subside), developed some lovely bruises on my ribs, and lumps on my face. To add insult to injury, I never managed to actually throw anyone!
I learned alot from the experience, however. There's nothing like this sort of a reality check to ma
Lisa is another one of my most dedicated students. She's been around for awhile now fairly consistently. She works hard and enjoys her time on the mats - mostly.
Lisa's not got what I would call a robust frame. In fact, she's rather...slender. Lisa's not short, though, and has, actually, surprisingly long arms, which reach out and "touch" you during atemi practice with an extension one does not quite expect.
Lisa's unnaturally flexible (as far as I'm concerned) and relaxed. I'm not sure she could be tense if she tried. This lack of tension makes her alot of fun to throw, however. I can toss her with a fair amount of power and she just kinda' bends like a sapling in the wind and absorbs it.
Lisa's a really mild person, which is her only shortcoming on the mats. She is timid and careful when she should be strong and assertive (in the performance of technique, I mean). I don't know how many times I've heard an unnecessary apology escape her lips during training. In fact, Lisa is so mild - even when she punches at me - that I sometimes get hit by her. I just don't perceive any threat in her attack and so sometimes when her arm very peaceably stretches out and puts her fist ever so kindly in my eye I find myself surprised (and feeling just a little betrayed ).
I'm going to be very opinionated in this blog entry.
I just watched a high-ranked aikido teacher (8th dan, I believe) doing some no-touch "throwing" on YouTube. Naturally, I thought the whole thing was ridiculous. The students were flinging themselves in massive, flipping arcs through the air in response to small waving motions from the sensei. I would've laughed at this demonstration if it didn't make Aikido look so bad.
I watched a vid clip on YouTube of a "ki master" doing similar things with his students.
This guy would wave his arms around and his students would leap through the air, or they'd jerk and writhe on the ground in response to the smallest movement from their teacher. I later saw the same "ki master" in another vid clip knocked on his butt and humiliated by a young kick boxer. This "ki master" lasted about a minute (if that) before his little fantasy world of ki mastery was brought to a humiliating end.
I think this needs to happen to some of the senior Aikido teachers I see representing the art in the same way as this "ki master." I think having a few of the big names in Aikido actually prove their Aikido works (or not) against a genuine challenge would be extremely good for the art. Much of the nonsense that has found its way into Aikido would be removed by this vigorous "process of elimination."
(For those of you who have seen clips of Osensei doin