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Old 02-15-2011, 11:32 AM   #43
Diana Frese
Dojo: Aikikai of S.W. Conn. (formerly)
Location: Stamford Connecticut
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 386
Re: Who to call "Sensei"?

I've mentioned my little YMCA dojo in a few posts, because some people might like to hear of the experiences there. It was many years ago, when Aikido was not very well known, and the location helped us get students, people would try it out because they were curious what it was, when they saw us on the stairs or passed by the practice room.

My teaching that class, it was strange how it happened. I remember in the women's dressing room at Hombu, one of the young women asked when I got back to my country would I teach Aikido. I looked a bit puzzled as I had become shodan recently then. She said that I must because the education was "mottainai" I think the word was. I think the meaning was, valuable, meaning it must be shared.

My mom later sent me a notice from the local paper in which "Hakido" was mentioned, because she wanted me to come home and it was her way of telling me I could still practice back here. When I went to the Y to inquire I didn't know if it was Hapkido or Aikido the notice was about. The director said he didn't know but that the plan had fallen thru, so I have no idea who they were and which art they would have taught.

The director, in the brand new Y building that had not been here when I left for Japan a year and a half previously, asked "Where did you say you just came back from and can you teach it?"

So that is how I ended up teaching Aikido only a month or two after I returned from Japan. It amazes me even now that it happened that way.

One student wrote in inquiry, calling me sensei, but after going to a few seminars with our group he started calling me Daian, the way all the others in my Y classes did. As a shodan who had been in Japan, I really believed my class was what the name I picked said, "Introduction to Aikido." If I teach again, that's what it is going to be called, because that was the way to start a wonderful experience of sharing what I had learned and students to work on my "homework" with and to learn from them and from others who visited, and to travel when we could.

Right in the middle of the intro six week class my doctor ordered an exam to look for an ovarian cyst,which he suspected and they did find but thank God it wasn't cancerous. In the recovery room, as soon as I began to wake up I asked if I had been operated on, because if not, I was going to be teaching that night. Well, I had so I had to wait. Fortunately the students did too and at the first opportunity I was back, but with permission to only watch from the sidelines in the current stone washed denim shirt and jeans set that was popular at the time.

The students were doing irimi nage and I stood up to extend nage's hand a bit or something..... "Siddown!!!" I heard from the small line of students behind me.

"now THAT'S respect" I said to myself. People showing they really care impressed me so much.

My story aside, I am very much interested in this thread and in what the others have to say. Thank you, it is a big help to me as my husband and I will be getting back into training and hope to have good transportation to visit dojos at least in the local area.
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