|Originally posted by Steff
Oh, oh - Don, these are tricky questions.
I realized a while ago that, unlike myself, many practitioners were attracted to the art simply for its philosophy. With me, it was a bait and switch: I wanted the martial magic promised in Tohei Koichi's books. Now, however, I truly look askance at aikido's utility--but I'm still doing it. "Why" is a good question for me, so I'll give these questions a shot, too.
1-What did you want to learn in aikido?
Effortless technique, invulnerable fighting ability (I was in my teens.)
2-What made you think you'd learn it ?
As per above, Tohei Koichi's books.
3-What did you learn?
4-What taught you?
How much I learned when uke get through defenses once in a while/the lessons to be learned from "losing"
The importance of timing, of waiting till it's right to throw, of not forcing technique/patience
How to take a punch (one of my dojos was, er, atypical)/tolerance for criticism.
How irriated I got when uke didn't fall, or did rise out of my pin (despite my desire to have authentic technique)/how my ego could interfere with my goal
To go back to the beginnning when things don't work; this probably facilitated by Saotome's genius as a teacher, his way of breaking down and grading students' approach to a technique.
The importance of connection, simplicity, and repetition. These usually arising from sessions doing kokyu exercizes; I find techniques starting to flow spontaneously from very simple beginnings.
The excruciating balance of vigor and reticence necessary for good ukemi/er, tough love?
The pleasures of community, shared endeavor, sincere colleagues.