Peter Rehse wrote:
Often those that demand accommodation are the least likely to accommodate. The group, a gathering of individuals, is expected to change more easily than one.
Sadly, I have also found this to be the case. Interesting phenomenon that.
I do find it difficult to be the "clone", as was suggested, as I have already developed my own style of "self-defense" after so many years training. I am finding it difficult to conform.
Therefore, for now, I must stick to my own "selfish" agenda, which is to use "going to Aikido" as therapy.
Iain: I hear you brother. I have had similar problems when training seriously in other martial arts. The good thing about your approach is that although you may have your own personal needs and reasons for going to Aikido, it sounds like you are not allowing your needs to hinder the progress of your peers or in any way disrupt the flow of training. You are trying your best to conform, but it is difficult. This is different to one who gets an understanding of a particular dojo's culture and decides for whatever reason they don't want to participate and seek to be accomodated as a result. So I don't see your approach as being as selfish as those who want the class to conform to their needs because they are unwilling to do something (being unable to do something is a different story as this may not involve the factor of choice).
When I train in other Aikido dojos (of a different style) I try to follow what the instructor teaches as much as possible. I know I have my own way of doing things and I may not even agree with some of the things being taught, but when in another man's house you follow his rules and respect them imho. I expect the same when I am instructing.
We often say Aikido is about harmony. I think the preservation of the wa or spirit of the class as Peter indicated, is another aspect of that training. It's about sensing the atmosphere and rhythm of the instructor and the dojo and knowing how to flow with it and utilise it's natural energy to one's benefit.
Also, many times the group helps to push individuals to go further, do better and strive harder, it is the individual who gains more out of the practice by trying to follow the encouragement of the group in many occasions. One example is in the randori we do. There are often times when one may feel that they are totally spent, unable to do any more and may request a rest. There are usually very short rest periods for everyone during this exercise, but there may be some who want to sit out the next round. Sitting out can often disrupt the numbers in the class if one has an even number of participants. This may cause the instructor to have to enter the group and train (meaning he can't take the time to observe their training from outside and make decisions as he is engaged at the time) or find some other creative way of restoring balance to the class, like having a more advanced group do 2 on 1 ninindori while others continue the original pattern.
Now there are times when the instructor must see that the person has reached his/her absolute limit and let them take the extra time out as well, and there are times when the instructor must also identify attempts to be lazy, to cop out and relax instead of pushing oneself to do better when one is able. In the case of the latter, the group energy helps to encourage the student to fight on (as it's very possible that everyone is spent to some degree at this point). In this way one learns valuable lessons in how the mind can marshall the body's forces into action to meet a challenge even though the initial feeling is to quit and roll over at this point. In many cases those who decide to push on learn things about themselves and how they operate under pressure that they never would have if the group energy (guided and led by the sensei of course, as safety is a primary factor) not encouraged them to push beyond and get to this point.
Just my few cents.