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Another student has, at various times, engaged me in a conversation about ego and rank. He says that we shouldn't consider either important.
I find it interesting because I have observed his interaction with the very new students and noticed that he tends to bark at them if they make a mistake. He never gives eye contact or recignizes them in a 'human' manner, he often attempts to correct my technique, to which I smile and nod, even though it isn't the instruction given by sensei, and he has even said that sensei is wrong at times.
I find that when I watch his movements it seems that he yanks stiffly through technique, which I find ironic because it to me reflects his personality type even in his conversational style. I have found that he will say something extreme and require an answer.
What is most challenging to me is that I respond to him in ways that I don't often do with others.
When he says 'sensei was wrong...' I find myself saying back 'By definition, sensei is never wrong...' Which isn't really true, and I don't think sensei would even agree to that. But I find that he makes these assertions about areas which he totally is uninformed enough to make a judgement, and he does it in front of the new students.
When he says 'there should be no ego...' I smile and nod, but I want to ask him if he's really prepared to embrace that. Could he take feedback from another student, even one who is dohai (equi-ranked), let alone a sempai? Over and over I have seen
A while back, years ago,when ...I think I was a gokyu..maybe yonkyu...I was training with a young man, very young. He was training for the first time and was attempting to do shomenuchi ikyo omote waza. While performing the technique, he was preoccupied with inflicting pain, unless he saw me wince, or recoil, he would keep trying to torque my elbow. This was no problem for me on my left side, it never hurt. My right elbow however had been dislocated multiple times as a child, so it had a lot more extension than most, and was more vulnerable.
So when he pinned me, he would push down on the elbow and pull up on the wrist as hard as he could. Twice I pulled back and rolled away. "Please don't torque the pin like that, it isn't necessary. Really, you can pin without inflicting pain."
He just looked really confused, said, 'okay' and did the technique the same way. At that point one of the sempai, a nidan came over and bowed to him to train. The kid looked a little intimidated, but was determined to succeed in performing what he thought was the right way to do the technique.
This nidan, as uke, just slowed his efforts, and softly glided to the ground. Then they switched, and he performed the technique gently, without strength, the kid resisted but it was to no avail. Then sensei called out 'Katate dori nikyo' and they went again, sempai performing softly, slowly, and gently. By this time the kid had worked up a sweat, and was out of breath. Now it was the youngster's tur
Have you ever had one of those training experiences when your nage sends you in one direction, then quickly redirects, then you're down, then up and you're thinking 'Okay, throw me already.'?
Well this has been my week at school. Academic records somehow lost at the registrar's office, volunteers flaking on committments, beurocrats blindsiding, and high-maintenance students not realizing that they can't change a set schedule because they want to party that night instead.
My one repreive, my one escape, better than sake, better than ice cream, is the chance to train. So it's not as often as I want, but the group I train with is tempered with a great variety of attitudes, and physical personalities. This week I got to work with a beginner who was familiar enough with his body and conscious enough to pick up direction, that we could improvise a little. Very little, but still it was fun. At another point I watched an 'aha' moment when a student made their own correction on their own forward roll and you could see the 'Hey, I did it' on their big smiley face.
Very cool stuff.
So I think I do use Aikido as escapism, in answer to the question on a recent thread, but I think pulling myself out of the apathetic, sometimes antipathetic world allows me to take a break, readdress my worldly challenges, and step back into the same world with a slightly more aiki attitude. I'm not perfect, but I strive to implement blending even through a multitude of turbulants.