Re: It Had to Be Felt #26: Jan Hermansson: "Yust Bench Press Me Oop"
To get on the tatami at Vanadis Aikido Clubb in Stockholm, Sweden, you have to climb a stair. Six, maybe seven steps. Last year there was this old man who had to do this slowly and concentrated. It seemed to me as if his body had climbed a lot of stairs with a lot of steps throughout his life and was kind of fatigue now. When he finally got onto the tatami it was obvious, that even bowing was not easy to him.
During keiko I spotted the old man sometimes at a certain place: The right, back corner of the tatami. Slow movements, thrifty. He didn't take ukemi to the ground, only moved a little at all. And alltogether seemed to be "fragile". A big body, must have been a bear in former days. But old now.
Everybody was moving easy and light, everybody was taking ukemi in an ambitious, a very sensitive way, both, tori and uke acting so smooth and soft. Some people did breakfalls, high, but without any noise: This way of practice.
In the back corner on the right that old man who nearly hadn’t managed to get up the stairs. Slowly moving, stiff. He clearly stood out in the waves of all this fluffy movement.
Then we both partnered up. And while I was trying to take care of the fragile old man I soon realized that it was him taking care of me. In his slow, stiff, small movements there was so much experience, so much knowledge. And every time I attacked, he just moved a little bit so that I always met his whole body. And I could sense the old bear, who was sleeping inside.
He didn’t do anything. Nearly no waza. And he clearly did not “imitate” the light and fluffy movements of the teaching shihan and his students, like we others tried to. He just stood there, moved his body the way it was possible for him …and always had me, always controlled me, always moved me. Without any chance for me to get out of his control. He did this without causing me any harm. It may have looked so stiff, but on my end it felt very “friendly”, soft and – have to say it this way – “humble”. The old bear like dozing, being lenient toward a young, not really coming out of his cave.
When it was my turn, his ukemi also was friendly and humble. I felt at once that I couldn’t have moved him an inch if he didn’t let me. But in no way he showed this to me. He didn’t teach me, didn’t correct me, he was just a partner who gave me exact the ukemi I needed to feel myself and to work on what I thought I should. He just didn’t go to the ground. But this was not necessary. I could learn from what he did. We just practiced, didn’t talk, just moved each other around, then bowed and went our way.
After practice, while I was folding my hakama, I saw Endo sensei walking to the right, back corner of the tatami and talk to the old man. Endo likes talking to practioners who are of his age. And he often asks since when they do aikidō. So this was nothing special. But to see sensei bowing to the old man, this indeed was special.
Later I was told that Endo had called Janne Hermansson sempai to him. And had asked him about his experiences with O sensei.
That day at Vanadis Aikido Clubb in Stockholm, Sweden, I practiced with an old man who just practiced because he had to. Because keiko was just natural to him. So he didn’t let his aching, fatigue body hinder him.
That day I practiced with a Swedish Aikido Legend. Who didn't let me know and didn't let me feel this. Who just became the uke or tori I needed to have. Someone who didn’t show his place in hierarchy didn’t use his experience, skills or strength to impress or to “win” or to “teach” or whatever. But just took his partner, took me seriously.
It was at Vanadis Aikido Clubb in Stockholm when I practiced with a sempai of Endo Seishiro shihan.
Last edited by Carsten Möllering : 08-01-2012 at 09:17 AM.