Jorge Garcia wrote:
Speaking of supposed abuse, I have heard some interesting underground stories of a system of "protection" at the Aikikai Hombu for the locals that existed in the past. I don't know the details but the stories imply something like this. A person from another martial art comes in and is being really rough on his partner ( and possibly abusive). When a senior member notices it, they notify an unofficial "enforcer" who then finds a way to train with that person (interrupt the two practicing or get them the next time?) and that person "takes care of them".There seems to be an implication that is is somewhat of an honor to be that enforcer because it is an unspoken recognition that the person can handle almost anyone. This example would be among the more senior members. Anyone ever heard or become aware of anything like this? Could this be why O Sensei wasn't interfering with the person Ellis said was being abusive? Maybe it was going to be "taken care of" later.
Oh yes. The first time I went to Saotome Sensei's Aikido Shobukan in Washington DC, I was determined to demonstrate that I was serious about my training, which led me to an up-close-and-personal encounter with that particular phenomenon.
Mind you, I wasn't trying to hurt anyone, but I was most definitely intent on proving that I even though I was a yonkyu nobody knew from Adam, was serious about my practice, and I was working fairly fast and hard. Just as I began to register a touch of surprise that my partner didn't seem to be up for practice as fast, hard, and -- in retrospect -- more than a bit rough around the edges as I was engaging in, Frank Bell cut in, immediately bumping the speed and intensity up a notch. So my next yokomen was that much harder and more determined. His next shinonage set me down correspondingly faster. The cycle continued to rise in intensity -- with Frank maintaining a degree of control I recall as exquisite -- until I took enough of a knock on the back of the head when he set me down in shiho-nage that I learned why my teachers had all emphasized tucking the chin.
Not that I had the sense to dial back at that point. That obvious possibility didn't even occur to me until felt a sharp harbinger of potential shoulder separation. And even then, I didn't really dial back the attack so much as I adjusted the ukemi to avoid the risk to my shoulder. Frank was enjoying himself greatly. And to tell the truth, I was too. So we continued until I just couldn't draw enough oxygen to stand up again, and gasped "can I have a moment to catch my breath?"
He nodded yes, in a deadly serious but not unfriendly way. Saotome Sensei stepped up from where he had been watching and asked, "Everything ok here?" Frank and I both looked at him and replied at once: "Yes, Sensei." He smiled and said, "Good." Then, wa restored, he turned and walked away.
I popped back up, began to pay attention to the speed and intensity of practice around me, Frank continued to school me for the rest of the class, no matter what I did, and I remain grateful that I got a conscientious enforcer that evening.