Many dedicated aikidoka run businesses, have demanding jobs, or have become parents. Their situations sometimes demand changes in the way they attend aikido class. It is the right thing, I feel, to understand and support people in such difficult situations. However, I still believe there are people with "character flaws," like one forum member said, and the following comments about lateness are directed to them. Some of the comments I make are based on my own observations and experiences and may not seem true or relevant to other aikidoka.
* Some teachers like to start a class from a basic concept and work their way to more advance applications. Somebody who's late wouldn't know what specific concept or aspect is being studied and the teacher would have to help this student understand what's going on. This is extra work for the teacher.
* Whenever there is a small group at the beginning of a class, a teacher might decide to take advantage of the extra mat space to practice weapons. But later into the class the teacher realizes that because of latecomers the group is now twice as big as in the beginning of class. Now there is not enough space to practice weapons safely and unwanted changes have to be made.
* Whenever possible, is good to arrive at the dojo early enough to help take care of maintenance and administrative issues. It's not good enough to assume that somebody always arrives at the dojo before we do.
* When students are late, especially yudansha-level students, it sets a bad example for beginners. Beginners have less experience or insight into dojo rules and behavior, and by looking up to their seniors, they might conclude is OK to be late sometimes. This could degenerate into a bad habit.
* People who are late for Saturday/Sunday morning classes… what possible excuse can they have?
* Sometimes is hard to solely focus on our partners --we have to be aware of our surroundings too (usually to avoid bumping into other people). So whenever somebody is coming through the door, walking, or doing warm-ups around the mat area, there is a distraction. I personally find this true for a class/lecture of any nature, not just aikido.
* A person who arrives late on the mat is not at the same energy level as the rest of the class. A person who just arrived will feel disconnected and hyper compared to the rest, whose bodies are properly warmed up and whose minds are more focused and tuned with the action.
* I find there is a beautiful order in aikido training when all students participate in every aspect of the class --from initial bow to final bow--this group chemistry adds to the whole martial arts experience.
* Practicing self-discipline and being sensitive and critical of our training environment is in the nature of martial arts, and aikido is a martial art. Lateness is sometimes the result of failing to understand this.
I personally feel that aikido instruction is a privilege I am given in exchange for respect and commitment, and part of this commitment includes making a sincere effort to be on time for class.