Jun Akiyama (akiy) wrote:
The following question was asked by Opher Donchin
for the people here in the Voices of Experience forum:
One question I've had when I think about my next 20 years in AiKiDo is about the rhythms that I've noticed in my first ten years. I'm really curious if, looking back, people notice any particular 'stages' that they feel that they (and others that they know) have gone through, or multi-year ups and downs that start to seem familiar with time. This is meant to be an open question so any ruminations on the subject would be interesting to hear.
Well, I also would be very interested to see what others like Chuck, George, Dan Linden and Dennis Hooker have to say about this. And Opher does not say anything about the rhythms of the first ten years. It would be good to hear about these rhythms, also.
I can divide my own aikido experience in several different ways:
(1) pre-shodan vs. post-shodan;
(2) pre-teaching vs. post-teaching;
(3) pre-Japan vs. post-Japan.
(1) Pre-shodan vs. Post-shodan
It took me almost ten years to obtain shodan rank. The reason for this is that my academic commitments took me from place to place and this meant that, as a kyu grade, I had to rebuild my aikido training from scratch, so to speak. Each new teacher represented a clean sheet, so to speak. The teachers were: a young, tough instructor from the Shiseikan, Chiba, Kanai, Kanetsuka. Two of these were direct deshi of the Founder. so I was somewhat bemused by the recent thread on a 'Bill of Rights' for aikido practitioners. With teachers like Chiba or Kanai, the concept of rights never entered my head. I was conscious of being in the presence of people whose training had been very special. Anything they taught me was a gift. I paid the dojo dues, of course, but this never represented a contract between myself and the instructor. The dojo dues, set by whoever (I had no idea), were to enable the teacher to survive till the next class.
My shodan test was totally unexpected and I myself thought it was an unmitigated disaster. Yamada Yoshimitsu Sensei was taking a seminar and I was told on the final day of the seminar that I would have to test for shodan "this afternoon". I passed and then things happened after I put on the hakama. (For a start, I disgraced myself by falling over it once or twice when getting up from seiza and ukemi.) But the attitude of the teachers changed. The input from the teachers became more severe, in the sense that they expected me to see what they were doing and to do what they were doing. So I was chastised much more as a yudansha than as a mudansha. The corrections changed from, "Peter, do it this way." to "Peter, what on earth do you think you're doing? Have I ever taught you that?" But they also went the extra mile, and more.
Now, I have stated all this because I have been an aikido gypsy. I have gone from teacher to teacher by force of circumstances. Thus I would like to hear from the other "Voice of Experience" members, including Jun, who have had only one teacher throughout their aikido lives, how their relationship changed after reaching shodan, or dan rank. Am I right in thinking that George Ledyard, Dennis Hooker and Dan Linden, and Jun, also, have been taught by Saotome Sensei up to shodan and well beyond this?
This is a large subject and I have raised a number of questions to be going on with. So I will end here and add more posts later.