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A few Years ago, I would look forward to reading Rev. Kensho Furuya's daily message Sensei was the head of the ACLA (Aikido centre of Los Angeles) and his messages were thought provoking and inspirational.
One theme Sensei Furuya often repeated was taking note of even the smallest detail of your dojo practice and take it to heart.
Recently getting changed, I realized that the zori I was putting on weren't actually mine! I must have put on the wrong ones at the Doshu course, due to the volume of people at the venue.
Oh well, I will look after my newly ‘acquired' zori and in future make sure I am being more aware and focused in the dojo, even when practice is over……
I was recently asked by a friend, to recommend an Aikido book for him as he was joining the Police force in 2 weeks.
'well they'll probably teach you whatever you need to know' i told him
"yes but i want to get a heads up, i want to look as though i know what i'm doing" was his reply.
'well the best way would be to join a club...'
"no i haven't got time time for that" he interrupted
'well there's (i reeled off a few titles) which show techniques in detail etc'
"umm right" his reply (without making notes of my suggestions)
I met up with him last weekend, and he showed me his book -- Dynamic Aikido (Gozo Shioda)
'oh right, i've got that one, it's got some good diagrams to work from' i told him.
"no its not very good" was his reply "its all broken down into small movements" he seemed disappointed in his lack of progress.
ohh... then i realized - he needed the 'Magic book', the one where he just sits back and is imbued with all the technical knowledge.
i'll have to borrow his copy, if he ever finds it.....
Until then i just keep going to the Dojo.
The other night Sensei was teaching a tenkan variation, where we move from our centre and extend forwards.
Like most Aikido exercises, the ones that look the easiest are usually the hardest to learn (followed by the ones that look hard - which lets face it they are...lol).
Anyway, my brain decided to micro analyse the movement (much to my annoyance) and i fell into the age old trap of over-thinking.
"just turn" Sensei told us........yea like its that easy my brain was saying.
But you know what, it was.
Ok so now i've learnt to turn (after 7 years) that's step one sorted.
Ok then on to step two - trying to figure my left from my right....
I was one of the hundreds that travelled to Cardiff to attend the Doshu 2010 course.
It was a great privilege to train under Doshu, and despite the cramped mat conditions we all tried our best and enjoyed ourselves.
Then Sunday morning my regular class with Sensei Derrick (white rose aikikai) getting folks ready for the course and grading next Sunday so a lot of 5th Kyu basics, it's good to go back to basics.
At the beginning and end of class, Sensei McAuley always looks into his students eyes before he makes his bow, to end or start class.
He tells us this is from his teacher (Asoh Sensei) and is a form of communication from the heart.
I had a similar experience of this at the weekend on the Uk Shinwakai course, where a couple of visiting Japanese students were training, there were obvious verbal communication problems, although the language barrier became a non-issue during the training, i received the technique (was thrown) the technique was good i rose and smiled, she smiled, after a while we changed roles, we could both 'feel' the techniques work and also when they didn't, we worked together to correct the technique........not a word was spoken
Heart to heart communication, what a wonderful art O'sensei left us.
Last night Sensei had me and Dave (my Sempai) teaching the class, Dave is much better at teaching than i am. I'm hoping that improvement and confidence will develop with experience.
2 Issues gave me pause for thought....
1) How often should Sensei, interrupt a students practice to make corrections, obviously wrong arm / leg / technique, should be corrected straight away, but should you allow the students to 'feel' their mistakes and make their own corrections, without Sensei constantly jumping in ?
2) I noticed, (not for the first time) the difference between what Sensei has demonstrated and what the students are actually doing, students (and i'll add myself here too) fall back into 'perceived' patterns of movement rather than what has been shown, last night for example Sensei taught a slight variation of Sankyo - yet students were not picking up on these changes..........i wonder why this happens?
These points are now making me think of my own techniques and making sure that i don't fall into 'routine patterns of habit'
and also how many mistakes i'm making before Sensei comes over to correct me................................