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I suppose I should be gratified, and I am. But faintly disturbed as well.
I have two fairly senior students. Both are dedicated practitioners of Aikido. The other day I had them doing a Jiyu Waza in which my instructions were to not think of each other as uke or nage, but simply do their best to throw each other. I was looking for them to challenge each other and do so without getting into the spirit of competition.
They were really good! I watched, they did the Jiyu Waza. They challenged each other. The pushed their own limits. They threw each other around. They smiled the whole time. The achieved a level that I knew I was incapable of.
I can't do what they just did.
It is, in fact, a limitation in my Aikido which has been bugging me for almost a year now. I've been working on it, but I've also been nursing a knee injury which has prevented me from working on much of anything.
They did that better than I could.
Certainly, there are some things about Aikido - a lot of them - that I understand and can do better than either of them. But in this one area, they've both surpassed me. And I taught them how to do that.
How'd I do that?
I minded of an old expression whose attribution I've long since forgotten:
"The faults we recognize in others are often a reflection of our own self-knowledge".
I wonder if this is why these two are so good at something that I'm struggling with. Because I can spot when they are strug
I got a call from a prospective student yesterday. I wouldn't like to give the impression that this guy was being difficult, he wasn't. But he asked a question I get all too often:
"Is this one of those soft art schools? I want something real."
This question always causes me grief. The definition of "real" is slippery at best.
I have students who've defended themselves using Aikido. I've defended myself using Aikido. I've been in situations where my attitude caused people not to attack me and I attribute this to my Aikido training.
Is that real?
Didn't I talk about this before? Maybe, but here it is again.
Aikido isn't about fighting. At best it's about resolving the conflict so that everybody walks away friends. That isn't always possible, but at least it's possible that everyone walks away alive and relatively unhurt. The other guy may be fighting, but I'm not.
Is that real?
Competitions are set up to follow certain rules and last for a certain amount of time either determined by chronology or points or some other arbitrary measurement. The competitive mindset screws up any chance of using Aikido effectively, at least for me.
So, competition, is that real?
Real life on the mat
Can you duplicate real life conflict on the mat? I don't think so. People would get hurt or killed. You lose more students that way.
So how does this prepare you for "real life" conflict? Does