Opher Donchin (opherdonchin) wrote:
I guess that for a number of people on the thread, the reaction to the story revolves around the question of whether Dan could have 'taken' the other instructor. If he could have, then it's possible to see his choice as wise and generous; if he couldn't, then the suspicion arises that Dan was forced to submit.
Yes! You have hit it right on the head! Could he have taken the other man? I think the answer is no, but it just doesn't matter. He didn't have to. Look, the guy came over and rudely demanded to be taught Aikido. That's not how to do things, but we have to look at the situation in perspective. The other man is an instructor himself, they share the same practice space, and Dan was a visitor in his country.
So just how much of an insult was it to Dan that the other man took this approach? Not that much. If Dan had been a shihan or even a highly ranked shidoin, then maybe it would have been different, but if that were the case then Dan, or one of his students, would have been sure to teach the man a different sort of lesson, one about respect, not about Aikido techniques.
But Dan let the indiscretion slide, and in this situation I think it was the right thing to do. It was, in fact, submitting, but the reality is that we often submit to others out of respect or because the situation simply requires it, even when they have done something that we don't like. It is part of life, and certainly part of life in the martial arts.
The problem I saw in Dan's story is that he missed this, and he thought that he had not submitted but instead prevailed over the man by trickery or deception. Alot of people on this thread also saw it that way, and I think that's largely a result of the competitive attitude that always needs to identify with winning and being better than others. But Dan is no better or worse than the other man, regardless of what art the other guy teaches or how he approached Dan. The right thing to do was to teach the man some Aikido, not because the other guy threatened him, and not because it resolved the conflict that Dan percieved, but because that's what the man needed and because Dan could provide it. Had Dan realized this in the first place, then there never would have been a conflict at all. That would have been an example of how Aikido can avoid a conflict entirely.
Dan's decision to teach the man by taking ukemi rather than throwing him was a wonderful idea. It alone makes this story worth reading. But why was it important in resolving this conflict? Strictly speaking, the question of method of instruction shouldn't have mattered. The conflict was resolved by Dan's decision to teach the man, regardless of method, because the conflict was created only by Dan's reluctance to teach the man. Why was Dan so reluctant? Maybe he was a little scared and wasn't sure if he could safely throw an aggressive, trained TKD instructor. And maybe he hadn't thought of the idea of taking ukemi for him. Perhaps he was locked into the idea that only way to teach this man a lesson was to throw him.
If so, that would explain why he experienced the idea of taking ukemi as the element that resolved the conflict. For him, this idea, finally appearing at the last minute when Dan thought there was no other way out, is what enabled him to willingly and confidently teach the man. His fear disappeared as he realized that he didn't have to throw the man to teach him. Confidently, Dan reached out grabbed the man's wrist, knowing that neither he nor the other man would be hurt.
The idea of taking ukemi may have played a key role in the resolution of this conflict because it may have been what Dan needed to feel safe teaching this man. And teaching the man was what ultimately resolved this conflict because, in spite of the man's agression and impoliteness, it was the right thing to do.