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Old 11-23-2002, 11:55 PM   #3
Peter Goldsbury
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Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 2,004
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(1) Pre-shodan vs. post-shodan;

I have one or two more things to add here. The concept of time, and stages, in aikido training is a very interesting one. On the one hand people do go through a linear learning process; on the other hand the learning process is also cyclic, especially with the core techniques. As the years progress your repertoire of techniques increases; on the other hand you gain new and deeper insights into the basics: irimi nage is just as difficult at 6th dan as it was at 1st dan, or 5th kyu, but for different reasons.

(2) Pre-teaching vs. post-teaching;

I am pretty sure that one of the reasons I was promoted to shodan was that Mr Kanetsuka needed some junior instructors to teach in the main dojo when he was away giving seminars. But I was also taught how to teach. This was done by the instructor actually practicing when his junior instructors were teaching and giving feedback, either at the time or afterwards. There was a diary kept in the dojo and when Kanetsuka Sensei was away, the diary became especially important. Each technique had to be noted, each sword and jo kata, with space for comments (which we had to fill in: if there were no comments, there was clearly something wrong...). I have never forgotten this training I received.

(3) Pre-Japan vs. post-Japan.

When I was a student in the US, we had regular visits to the dojo from other senior instructors and in 1974 Kisshomaru Doshu visited the US. Actually this was my first introduction to aikido 'politics', for the purpose of Doshu's visit was a trip to Hawaii for a make-or-break meeting with Koichi Tohei Sensei. But I became much more aware of aikido as an organization centred in Japan, with a man at the top who was the son of the man we bowed to before and after every practice. John Stevens had not written his books yet, so information was rather sketchy. Anyway, 1974 marked the stage when I began seriously thinking about going to Japan. However, the Ph.D. had to be finished first...

I arrived here in 1980 and went to live in a smaller provincial city, but one with a very famous name. It came as something of a shock to realize (a) the 'politics' surrounding Hiroshima's promotion of itself as the first A-bombed city and therefore in a unique position to promote world peace and (b) the fact that very few ordinary citizens took all this very seriously, including my own aikido instructor (who also lost family and friends in the bombing). The three main areas of change in my 'aikido life' were:

(i) The way we practiced. There was no verbal explanation. Each technique was simply shown four times: migi, hidari, omote, ura (here are the kanji for those who can read it:@E,,\,);

(ii) I stopped teaching and simply trained. I did not teach aikido again until I became 5th dan and even now train more than I teach, even in my own dojo (there are two other instructors and we have a rule that at least two of us are present every class).

(iii) My aikido instructor (who was 7th dan) did not feel responsible for my continuing aikido education. This was my job, to be pursued as I wished. Of course the techniques had to work, regardless of the attack or the size of uke, and he was very quick to point out errors. But sometimes I was made to feel that my own way of training was as authentic as his.

Best regards to all,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 11-23-2002 at 11:59 PM.

P A Goldsbury
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