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Old 07-21-2011, 02:37 PM   #80
Diana Frese
Dojo: Aikikai of S.W. Conn. (formerly)
Location: Stamford Connecticut
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 386
Re: The Word "Aikido"

A little window into another time, if you will, around thirty-six years ago.

A modern twist on ancient wisdom in a book a friend of mine sent me from Long Island. Too bad I can't remember it exactly, but here goes. Where you are, there you are. Your luggage may be elsewhere. Today, I'm not sure what made me attempt to recreate that pearl of new-old wisdom, but here's the setting. I had just come back from Japan a few weeks previously and my Dad was giving me advice. "It's the YMCA, Just teach the exercise. Don't try to tell them the philosophy."

the Y had just gotten a brand new building, and I had followed up on a notice from the paper my mom had sent (my visa was expiring anyway) that there was "hakido" there.

I didn't know if that was a misspelling of Aikido or whether it was Hapkido (about which I wasn't sure just what it was)

The director didn't know either he just said that class "fell through" and where did I just come back from and could I teach it.

I think I remember the former mayor of NYC, Mayor Koch used to walk around saying, "How'm I doing?" At any rate the Y director used to walk around genially asking "How're ya doing?"

It was the perfect environment for a newbie shodan to start out in those days. Soon people from a neighboring dojo came down once a week in support of the class, an occasional yudansha would drop by, and some of us would visit other dojos and seminars, but, as Prof Goldsbury seems to be saying, we didn't really feel we needed to ask ourselves what Aikido was. We were fortunate to learn from many seniors so there was pretty much "philosophy" around. The "splits" seemed to be about teaching methods or organizations, they didn't seem to be about what Aikido was, or wasn't. Some teachers quoted O Sensei, some didn't, we respected them all.

As far as the students were concerned, that first evening at the Y I decided that to respect my dad's advice in a way, I wouldn't tell the students, I would ask them what they were looking for. "To be more centered" seemed to be the predominating answer among the small group of six people registered for what I asked the director to call "Introduction to Aikido" (after all, I was just shodan, but here was an opportunity to open the door, and sure, other Aikido people did join in the efforts and enjoyment some years more than others, some less, but it was well worth while and I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of it.)

What did I answer that first evening? "Well, if the teacher is centered, it is possible the student might not absorb that, and if the teacher is not centered, it's possible that the student will learn to be centered anyway. And I'm not telling you which I am."

Truth be told I had no idea, but the dojo did okay, due to so many people who came by and stayed for a visit or for several years. I'm glad I took that opportunity.

I guess that explains my peculiar point of view. Stuff has a way of happening, and we hope, for the best. People went on to train elsewhere when they moved, even years later they returned to Aikido in their new locations as I have said many times before.

I keep saying this, like a record that keeps skipping to the same place. But from my point of view there is all this stuff out there for people to learn, and people to learn from. I'd give some credit to the students, they very often know what they need and will find a way to find it.
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