The Mute Trombone
One of my early sempai used to be very melodramatic as he trained. He would act like I was hurting him every once in a while (and I really don't think that I was) and then just as he switched to nage he would have the "I'm going to get even" look in his face and body. Sure enough he would do the next technique a bit harder, causing more pain, but never injury. I was gullible and would almost everytime, apologize or ask him if he was hurt. He said nothing. He just gave me the look. I think he was just having fun with me, but it taught me to trust what I felt more than what I saw or was told. I knew I hadn't hurt him; I knew he wouldn't really hurt me. He was teaching me to trust myself. He would explain technique if asked, but on this one point he was always a ham.
Another sempai used to be scary for another reason, she had deadly technique hiding just below the surface at all times. She would be working on keeping things smooth, but if my ukemi was not cooperative, the ride to the ground would become much more direct.
Some sempai have given me the distinct feeling that every moment of their ukemi was a gift, the techinques would feel smooth and perfect, but had the edge like I was following as nage and reversal was present at every moment.
Talking is important, but I can't remember that much of what they said to me. One must talk sometimes to be more effective, it would be very hard to argue otherwise. Instead, if one feels that something should be said during training, and the instinct is to say something a bit "Zen" rather than, "move the left foot six centimeters at a 43 degree angle." Is it an appropriate answer to kohai to occasionally say, "I don't know." "I'm just learning this myself." or "Perhaps one of the many things that I'm doing wrong." I've found that kohai are often in need of confidence direction more than physical direction. Technique is easier to study when the learned are "just studying" and not always quick to pretend like everything has an easy answer. I would hope that we all try to find a balance between showing, talking, doing and sometimes satirizing or philosophizing on technique. Once everyone finds what balance they are comfortable with, I challenge one to train once in a while in a way that one is less comfortable with. Take away the balance and study the poles.
Does anyone have favorite "Zen" come backs to, "What am I doing wrong?" besides, "What are we all doing wrong?" or "I was about to ask you the same thing!"?