Arjan de Vries
I was asked to give a workshop Aikido to a number of 40 people who are not really motivated in their job. They have just been depromoted because of a big fusion.
Do you think maybe Management is just hoping you'll kill a few of them--sort of further depromote them???? And then maybe the rest will just flee?
Actually, with a group that big of nothing but beginners, it's probably better that you don't have tatami. And the simpler you can keep it, the better you'll do.
Mochizuki Sensei often told me to "teach as much as possible as fast as possible" and to "teach something at every lesson that the student can go out and use the same day."
I have a one-hour lesson that I base all my other teaching on. I give them something that they can immediately use and that they can remember and enact instantly for the rest of their lives. It makes a deep and dynamic change in each person and each one feels empowered and uplifted, relaxed, encouraged and happier.
The essence of that lesson: relax and stand up straight.
It's all about how semi-conscious tensions in the body pull the body out of vertical alignment, hamper the breathing, cause pain in the back and elsewhere and make one a target for muggers.
I have them stand in a less-than-shoulder-width stance and I review with them what causes them to stand up straight: it's an evolutionary development that sets humans apart from other animals. I point out that our natural nervous system impels us to stand as tall as our skeleton will allow without stretching or being unnatural. There are survival reasons for this--to be able to see further and hear better, and also to be seen by others. The narrower stance puts the leg bones vertical in the hip sockets and gives the dynamic instability to allow us to move easily in any direction or stand in place with minimal exertion.
Then I review what makes us break that verticality: it's basically some degree of the "fight or flight" response. In nature, a tall-standing person would quickly drop at a sign of serious danger, to get the head down where he won't be seen and to be ready to pounce into the danger or away from it. And when the danger goes away, the person will naturally, if gradually, return to his full height when he relaxes.
So when we relax, we rise to our full natural height without effort. And when we tense, we increasingly lose that height and verticality.
So my first lesson is "relax, stand up straight". It should fill a complete hour to teach this to forty people.
And your bunch sounds like great candidates for this because, while in nature the threat eventually goes away, for modern man the threat is much lower, but pretty much constant. "The Boss" is always lurking, like a tiger, somewhere near, silent, but always looking for someone to "depromote". This tends to put the abdominal muscles in a chronic tension as they clench to quiet the nerve plexus in the abdomen. This constant, unending tension makes it literally "hard" to stand up straight because the back muscles have to pull against those clenched abdominal muscles. But relax the abdominal muscles and the body pops upright like a cork popping to the top of the water.
Once people feel that, their breathing opens up, they stand taller, their heads are held erect and they're "back in the land of the living".
Then they can go out and use that knowledge immediately. Standing tall and relaxed, they present less of a target for muggers, who want to jump on someone who looks bent, beaten down and frightened--not someone who looks relaxed and aware. And if they do encounter some troublemaker, instead of clenching up and lowering their heads, they can consciously keep relaxed and tall and, while presenting a less desirable target, look for alternatives to walking into a bad situation.
That's something they can learn in one lesson, use the same day and remember for the rest of their lives.
And did I mention that it feels good?
If you want to go into some detail about this, PM me.
Good luck with it.