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I have long suspected that that is an Instructors' Course at Aikido Summer Camps or Association Meetings where teachers learn techniques for making us laugh at ourselves (and cringe a little), to improve our technique and awareness, or jar us out of habitual patterns of thinking.
Every Aikido teacher I've encountered - Sensei, the yudansha at our dojo, and visiting teachers alike - to the best of my recollection, has used pointed humor and sometimes pretty stern shaming in their teaching. Mostly it's really funny, and often includes some very good physical comedy. And it drives the point home like a nail gun.
"This is what some of you look like. I'm exaggerating, but only a little."
I have to laugh, and at the same time *facepalm* I see that once again I have let my arm trail behind my center in a tenkan, or completely forgotten to hold Uke's shoulder down when setting up the pin for sankyo. D'oh!
One whap upside the head I received in a recent one-on-one session on suwariwaza was "They call it 'knee walking' not 'duck walking'." The teacher, whose natural, flowing, centered shikko is an inspiration, then proceeded to show me exactly what my "duck walking" looked liked. Oh no... It was both mortifying and very funny.
A teacher could very "politely and respectfully" explain the rationale, physics, and anatomy behind their instructions, and demonstrate again the "preferred" way we should be working toward, blah, blah, blah... But that's explaining, not training
There are many times when I am struck with gratitude for my teacher. Here is a man who has trained in Aikido for many years, who is a perceptual genius, and who has devoted himself to sharing the art with his students.
The physical experience of training with him is that of being enveloped - utterly controlled, and completely safe. The emotional sense is one of total freedom to try, fail, and learn, again completely safe, trusting.
That is not to say it's all sweetness and nice, painless, or comfortable. Sensei sees through pretense, to the heart of the matter, and is willing to be direct and honest. Sometimes a seemingly off-hand comment cuts deep. My initial reflexive reaction is to defensively discount it as a moment of temper or frustration perhaps, or simply something misperceived. "That's not so." "I am not like that." "He's wrong."
But it's probably true that more it stings, the more accurate it is, and the harder I've been trying to hide it.
I've learned to allow for the possibility, even in my initial denial (which I now recognize as automatic, and meaninless), that there may be some truth there. "What did I do, or how was I being, that created that perception?" Of course, there is no differentiation between how I am perceived and who I am really. There is no "real us" that the world never sees. There is only how we come across to others.
It's a privilege to work with someone who sees so clearly. No one has ever had such faith in me to be open to str
I have posted about past Aikido In Focus workshops. They are held at our dojo, and led by Dave Goldberg Sensei. Each (as the name suggests) focuses on one aspect of Aikido. I've done all that have been offered since joining the dojo, and each its own way has been life changing.
My first, just over a year ago, was called "Relax, It's Aikido." You can read about my experience of that workshop here. The work we did in that short morning session let me see there was a whole way of being I had unconsciously walled myself off from, and allowed me to regain access to that way of experiencing life.
So here we are with another workshop coming up this weekend. I signed up for it weeks ago. I'm looking forward to it in the way one might normally reserve for going skydiving, or doing a ropes course: Excited, nervous, hopeful, maybe a little scared, giddy... I try to balance this against the reality that this is just a 2-1/2 hour one-time thing, with one very human sensei leading it, and a varied handful of students. Who knows how it might go. I try to not get my hopes up about what could be accomplished in so short a time. But then my past experiences tell me that significant insights and changes are possible.
Here is the subject of this workshop:
In what ways am I getting in my own way?
How am I limiting myself?
What should I be "looking at" in my own practice?
Interesting. I don't feel frustrated or stuck. I haven't been on a plateau. I'm preparing for my upcoming 4th