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Old 07-25-2008, 07:18 AM   #26
phitruong
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Re: When did you stop being a beginner in Aikido?

when I found mushin, as in, no mind, as in duhh as in, "what is that technique?" uhhh tenshijujiwhatchamacallit. "what is that move?" uhhh epileptic seizure?

When I started out in aikido, I was introduced to this thing called irimi. It took me seven years to get some understanding of it. I can do irimi forward, backward, side to side and even in circle. Recently, I found out that there is a tenkan as well. I lamented on the unfairness of the world, the cruelty of it all that I have to learn another thing. And it's going to take me another seven years. I tell ya! as soon as I found our where this tenkan guy lives, I will go there and show him the irimi with my car.

Once I found out that it just sucks to be a beginner, I just move myself into the mushin master section. It's a lot less to work.
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Old 07-25-2008, 09:17 AM   #27
Marc Abrams
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Re: When did you stop being a beginner in Aikido?

Lyle is an excellent martial artist and a person whom I respect and a person whom I call a friend. That being said, I do not necessarily agree entirely with modesty having to be false. Jennifer talked about one of the main philosophical pillars of my school, which is shoshin. An English phrase might be "The more one knows, the more one realizes how little they know." I am always in the process of deconstructing what I do so as to gain knowledge as to all of the mistakes that I am making, so that I can learn to make corrections. The longer that I do Aikido, the more subtle the mistakes are that I realize that I am making and the more profound and powerful my Aikido becomes when I correct those mistakes.

I try and always keep a beginners mind and an open mind. I am always willing to test out my ideas. Things either work or they don't work. Instead of looking at the perspective of being a beginner or something more advanced than that, I think that we should look at this as a life long process/road. I always hope that I have people ahead of me on that road so that I have models to use to improve. I hope to have plenty of people around the same turn in the road as me, so that we can honestly work on where we are. I hope that there will be people behind me on that road that are open to my sharing what knowledge I have gained to date.

Marc Abrams
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Old 07-25-2008, 09:31 AM   #28
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Re: When did you stop being a beginner in Aikido?

I don't know when one can stop being a beginner but I know one can stop being a noob in about 2, 3 years
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Old 07-25-2008, 09:35 AM   #29
Mike James
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Re: When did you stop being a beginner in Aikido?

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Lyle Bogin wrote: View Post
Saying you are always a beginner is cheating, using a philosophical point. Of course we all strive for shoshin.

But it's such a common thing to do among instructors and traditional martial artists that in and of itself it becomes a form of bragging. How did you earn the right to be so modest? If modesty is an indication of mastery, aren't you just saying "hey look how advanced I am"? Rather than modesty, it's just dishonesty.
I disagree (at least speaking only for myself). Many of us have seen or at least heard tell of the almost god-like Black Belts who won't won't give mere mortals (mudansha) the time of day. Or some Yondan who doesn't think that a mere Shodan or Nidan has anything they can learn something from. Trying to keep a beginner's mind and/or considering myself as always a beginner is one way that I guard against becoming too full of myself as I continue my training.

masakatsu agatsu
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Old 07-25-2008, 03:46 PM   #30
grondahl
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Re: When did you stop being a beginner in Aikido?

Well, If you actually still were a beginner you would not have time for concepts like shoshin

Quote:
Mike James wrote: View Post
Trying to keep a beginner's mind and/or considering myself as always a beginner is one way that I guard against becoming too full of myself as I continue my training.
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Old 07-25-2008, 03:55 PM   #31
Lyle Bogin
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Re: When did you stop being a beginner in Aikido?

But considering yourself a beginner and actually being a beginner are two different things.

I appreciate modesty, but I am also aware of the practical value of deceiving others into thinking you are weaker or less experienced than you are. At the very least this form of modesty convinces people of the strength of your mind and character. Aiki bragging.
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Old 07-25-2008, 04:20 PM   #32
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: When did you stop being a beginner in Aikido?

Quote:
Lyle Bogin wrote: View Post
But considering yourself a beginner and actually being a beginner are two different things.
.
And keeping a clean mind allows you to notice both. In yourself and in others.

Jennifer Paige Smith
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Old 07-25-2008, 04:50 PM   #33
rob_liberti
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Re: When did you stop being a beginner in Aikido?

My understanding is that beginner is shodan-sandan.
Intermediate is yondan-rokydan.
Mastery is 7th+

Of course you have to maintain beginner's mind regardless of level.
I've seen a 7th dan who was attending a seminar that someone else was teaching and during lined throwing - the 7th dan checked out his interpretation of the throw with a 1st kyu. That rocks.

To answer the question posed, I think when you are legitamately yondan skill level - which by my way of thinking means you can use your mind and body in both a unfied way and also separately to achieve the desired tasks. Actual rank doesn't mean much - some get it based on loyalty which is fine but doesn't mean your not still beginner level ability.

Rob
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Old 07-25-2008, 06:42 PM   #34
Enrique Antonio Reyes
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Lightbulb Re: When did you stop being a beginner in Aikido?

Quote:
Zach Trent wrote: View Post
I wonder how people could tell (or if) when they stopped being a beginner at Aikido and moved onto "comfortable" or "intermediate". Was it a belt rank? Was it something internal? Was there a mile-stone involved? Maybe it was such gradual process that you didn't notice!
I ask because I'm beginning to feel a little more comfortable about this martial art, but I still have classes where I leave more puzzled than when I came in! Maybe I can learn from you about your experience in progressing
Thanks!
Zach, Brattleboro, VT
Hi. I believe I stopped after I became a dedicated "student". Unfortunately being a student of the art has no more limits.

One-Aiki,

Iking
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Old 07-26-2008, 07:28 AM   #35
Lyle Bogin
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Re: When did you stop being a beginner in Aikido?

I've never met a person with a clean mind. Although I've met many people scrubbing vigorously.
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Old 07-27-2008, 10:18 AM   #36
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: When did you stop being a beginner in Aikido?

Quote:
Randy Sexton wrote: View Post
Jensei,
Master Shook taught you one of the greatest lessons and gifts of life. "To live in the now giving and receiving love." Your story brought tears to my eyes as I remembered my best friend who taught me the same lesson. A female minature Schnauzer we called "Sugar Bear." She died at 9 years old of lung cancer. Our "pets" sometimes are our greatest teachers. They remind us to stand with our face to the sun and smell the breeze, to roll in the grass with abandon, to love our food no matter how simple and snuggle with our bestest friends.
Doc
Doc,
I missed this post before. Thanks for your awesome understanding and your story. You totally got it.
Thanks,
Jen

Jennifer Paige Smith
Confluence Aikido Systems
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Old 07-28-2008, 01:19 PM   #37
Zach Trent
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Lightbulb Re: When did you stop being a beginner in Aikido?

Thank you, everyone, for this thoughtful discussion. I am very appreciative that so many experienced Aikidoka are assembled to share their knowledge and experience with me.

I very much appreciate Jennifer's story- thank you for sharing something so important to you.

I guess I can try to answer my own question, though I know I am still a beginner (and not just in terms of Shoshin). The way that I know that I am making progress is not in a belt rank, but the fact that the instructor doesn't have to correct me as much.

Now, I'm down to only 4 or 5 corrections per class, instead of 8 or 9 like I used to get.

I think that, cumulatively, I have learned from this thread that because there is no end to Aikido, it is not a simple matter to plot out your progress.

In taking that lesson further, why should it even matter if I am not a "beginner" any longer? As long as I am learning, I am moving forward. It is only for my ego and desire to impress others that I want to be more than a beginner-

These are things I need to let go of.

So- Shoshin it is. Now- maybe I should get that tattooed on my forearm so I can read it everytime I take ukemi
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Old 07-29-2008, 01:49 PM   #38
Lyle Bogin
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Re: When did you stop being a beginner in Aikido?

The challenge will be keeping soshin when some newbie starts correcting you. There's nothing else quite like it.

My favorite is this exchange: New person is on the mat so I'm taking it easy. They get annoyed that I am not being serious or strong enough or whatever. So I throw them vigorously. Then they say something like "well now you're just using strength and no technique".
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Old 08-21-2008, 02:38 PM   #39
Sava
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Re: When did you stop being a beginner in Aikido?

What a topic! Raises so many questions. It really got me to thinking, (always a frightening prospect), and mulling over all your posts. Here's what I've gotten from all of you so far- please be gentle. These are just the meanderings of a feeble but inquisitive mind.

I can't help but wonder here if what we're really trying to figure out is how to every day show the art of Aikido and those on the same path the respect and honor they deserve while always recognizing that there will be something to learn, be it the first day on the mat or the first day tying on a black belt. Humility must be necessary, but also confidence, and with practice, each must, by default, grow and evolve, but perhaps not in contradiction of one another. There's no need to ever feel badly about one's self for having someone with less experience correct you- that is based on this false idea that because you've been at something longer than someone else, you should have more answers than do they, and if not, you must be failing somehow. But everyone has a singular vision, and where those visions collide is where enlightenment can happen. Appreciate a newbie's input as much as you would appreciate the input of your instructor. That is not to say you should necessarily take a newbie's advice over that of your instructor, as certainly one's scope increases with time and experience, but what I'm trying to say is be open to input and feedback from anyone, without prejudice, as the view from infinite and unique vantage points can yield infinite possibilites.

It doesn't make sense in some way that we should always strive to be "beginners". Why else train if not to note
our progess and grow? Why start anything if only to never leave the stage of "beginner"? Certainly, it's not a good idea to give oneself the idea of having nothing to learn, but I think it's probably also not a good idea to try to keep oneself in a state of beginning.

The word itself may be the problem, and our stubborn inclination to use it. You can only begin once, and then begin anew elsewhere, but a beginning is a beginning. Once you've begun, you can never go back in time to begin the same beginning. So maybe what we're looking for is a better way to describe the perfect and beautiful moments, often right in line, that have us feeling comfortable with a certain technique, for instance, then completely baffled by it in the next moment when someone shows you something about it you've never before seen. I think the idea of beginning here really means to never abandon the idea that you always and forever have something to learn, from anyone at any given time, regarding anything. I really like how some of you talk about "shoshin" and having an empty mind. I'm finding myself more comfortable, however, thinking of it as an "unhindered" mind, or "unburdened"; free of the need to compete, compare, impress, etc. I certainly wouldn't want my mind to be empty! To do so would be putting myself in denial of what progress I have made, and that seems somewhat dangerous to me, and self-defeating, not to mention it sort-of countermands all the time and patience and effort my fellow-aikidoka/Senseis have put into teaching me!

Maybe the goal is just to recognize balance? In one breath, you may help someone, and in another, someone may help you. How much fruit will get thrown at me if I make a "circular" reference, here? (No groaning, please, unless in the form of a kiai. )

Anyway, maybe one way to consider this is to always strive to be "learners" or students, but to always be a beginner is to take away the meaning of beginning! The first step in anything deserves its own recognition, as does then staying with something. There shouldn't be a need for false modesty or egotism, just a genuine desire to show yourself and fellows respect, and to train in appreciation of the things you do know, and the things you know are yet to come. Always let yourself give, and always let yourself receive, and the need to classify yourself or anyone else as "beginner", "intermediate", "advanced", etc., will disappear.

So, I guess I'd say that I stopped being a beginner the moment after I began. But it was the beginning of a beautiful journey, with a few mile markers along the way so that if I try to travel too far on what fuel I have, there's something I can look back on in order to find my way again, and start from where once I was, but never start over.
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Old 08-21-2008, 03:16 PM   #40
David Maidment
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Re: When did you stop being a beginner in Aikido?

In something such as Aikido, I'm very much of the opinion that you should always consider yourself a beginner to keep an open mind towards learning, so that you actually can continue learning, modestly and completely.

However, on face-value I think there's a lot to this question too; for me, I stopped feeling like a beginner after my first lesson after a ten year break from Aikido. Suddenly, all of these things that I didn't understand as a youngster became clear, and I thought, "yes, I get this". But I'll always be a learner with inexperiences to overcome and to learn, and I'll forever have further to travel on the Aikido path, probably never seeing the horizon.

If I humble myself too much with the 'always a beginner' mindset there's the risk I'll have too little confidence to truly learn and advance. It's all about keeping yourself genuinely modest.

But, of course, from a 'beginner in the grand scheme of things' point of view, Sandan does sound like a reasonable level.
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Old 08-21-2008, 07:21 PM   #41
lbb
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Re: When did you stop being a beginner in Aikido?

Quote:
David Maidment wrote: View Post
If I humble myself too much with the 'always a beginner' mindset there's the risk I'll have too little confidence to truly learn and advance. It's all about keeping yourself genuinely modest.

But, of course, from a 'beginner in the grand scheme of things' point of view, Sandan does sound like a reasonable level.
But is that a helpful and meaningful definition of "beginner"? Seems to me that OP's original question was asking something analogous to, "When did you start to feel that you were getting your 'sea legs'?" To respond to that saying that you're a nth dan and you still consider yourself the lowliest beginner strikes me as faux humility -- or, who knows, maybe it's genuine humility, but it's not helpful in telling OP what I think he wants to know, which is when (and how) do the pieces start to fall into place.
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Old 08-22-2008, 12:16 PM   #42
Ron Tisdale
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Re: When did you stop being a beginner in Aikido?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
But is that a helpful and meaningful definition of "beginner"? Seems to me that OP's original question was asking something analogous to, "When did you start to feel that you were getting your 'sea legs'?" To respond to that saying that you're a nth dan and you still consider yourself the lowliest beginner strikes me as faux humility -- or, who knows, maybe it's genuine humility, but it's not helpful in telling OP what I think he wants to know, which is when (and how) do the pieces start to fall into place.
Ah, so, you understand the question! Care to proffer an answer yourself?

Mostly kidding, but just a little serious...

I myself think "sea legs" are going to vary from person to person. I also have found over the years that everytime I think I'm getting somewhere, I find out I'm not where I thought I was. I had this great german uke the other day at a seminar, I was doing this really relaxed, beautiful heaven and earth throw, and he was FLYING.

Then I took a look at his wrists...they were MASSIVE...so I asked him to REALLY hold me. I couldn't budge. Glad I checked myself...I could have walked away thinking myself a re-incarnation of some Kami...

Sides, I tend to get sea sick anyway...what do I want with sea legs?!?
Best,
Ron (his ukemi really was fantastic...too bad I couldn't really throw him)

Ron Tisdale
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"The higher a monkey climbs, the more you see of his behind."
St. Bonaventure (ca. 1221-1274)
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Old 08-22-2008, 12:56 PM   #43
MM
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Re: When did you stop being a beginner in Aikido?

The answer is many times and never. Both at the same time.

It's a loaded question. A trick question, if you will.

I think that in budo, one will find themselves a beginner over and over again. Without having faux humility.

For example, just starting out in Aikido, I had trouble learning to roll. It took me awhile but at one point, I stopped being a beginner because I could roll from any direction. But, then (much, much later), I found that there are levels of rolling and I had to start the learning process over again. Not that I forgot the initial training at all, but the layer underneath would never have been found if not for that.

Who hasn't trained in something and later it just came out of the blue ... "Oh, that's what sensei meant!" And another level opened wide and you just felt like you had something brand new to work on -- at a beginner's level.

In training, you have to learn A before you get to B before you get to C. Well, sometimes around stage D, you realize that stage A had another level to it that you'd never have been able to work on if you hadn't progressed to D. Why do you think sometimes that the seniors always are quoted as saying they go back to the basics? It isn't because they've forgotten them. They've just opened up another level to them.

Do you think the higher level people just get what they are working on correct every time? They fail quite a bit, too. Just like us. But, they're working levels we haven't reached. And they're working them like we do -- try, fail, try, fail, try, succeed, try, fail, try, fail, etc, etc, etc.

It's why there's a love/hate relationship with Budo. There's always, always, always something new to learn but at the same time, you're always failing more than you're succeeding. In the overall scheme, you're going forward but it never seems all that quickly. Until you stop and realize that ten years have zipped by and you're ten years older. And the thoughts about not starting sooner creep in while you look ahead to all the massive amounts of progress you know you could make ... if you had the time. But, the funny thing is that no matter how young you start, it will always be like that. There is no end to Budo. There's only you and what you do today. Even if I was 89 and knew I'd die at 90, I'd still jump at a chance given to me to practice some martial arts. It isn't about gaining that judan or menkyo kaiden but about me and that day I'm training. Budo creeps into the bones and no amount of failure will dislodge it.
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Old 08-22-2008, 08:31 PM   #44
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: When did you stop being a beginner in Aikido?

Quote:
Lyle Bogin wrote: View Post
I've never met a person with a clean mind. Although I've met many people scrubbing vigorously.
Plants need a little dirt to grow.

Jennifer Paige Smith
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Old 08-22-2008, 08:32 PM   #45
jennifer paige smith
 
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Re: When did you stop being a beginner in Aikido?

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
The answer is many times and never. Both at the same time.

It's a loaded question. A trick question, if you will.

I think that in budo, one will find themselves a beginner over and over again. Without having faux humility.

For example, just starting out in Aikido, I had trouble learning to roll. It took me awhile but at one point, I stopped being a beginner because I could roll from any direction. But, then (much, much later), I found that there are levels of rolling and I had to start the learning process over again. Not that I forgot the initial training at all, but the layer underneath would never have been found if not for that.

Who hasn't trained in something and later it just came out of the blue ... "Oh, that's what sensei meant!" And another level opened wide and you just felt like you had something brand new to work on -- at a beginner's level.

In training, you have to learn A before you get to B before you get to C. Well, sometimes around stage D, you realize that stage A had another level to it that you'd never have been able to work on if you hadn't progressed to D. Why do you think sometimes that the seniors always are quoted as saying they go back to the basics? It isn't because they've forgotten them. They've just opened up another level to them.

Do you think the higher level people just get what they are working on correct every time? They fail quite a bit, too. Just like us. But, they're working levels we haven't reached. And they're working them like we do -- try, fail, try, fail, try, succeed, try, fail, try, fail, etc, etc, etc.

It's why there's a love/hate relationship with Budo. There's always, always, always something new to learn but at the same time, you're always failing more than you're succeeding. In the overall scheme, you're going forward but it never seems all that quickly. Until you stop and realize that ten years have zipped by and you're ten years older. And the thoughts about not starting sooner creep in while you look ahead to all the massive amounts of progress you know you could make ... if you had the time. But, the funny thing is that no matter how young you start, it will always be like that. There is no end to Budo. There's only you and what you do today. Even if I was 89 and knew I'd die at 90, I'd still jump at a chance given to me to practice some martial arts. It isn't about gaining that judan or menkyo kaiden but about me and that day I'm training. Budo creeps into the bones and no amount of failure will dislodge it.
Dynamic spiral, neh?

Jennifer Paige Smith
Confluence Aikido Systems
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Old 08-29-2008, 09:16 AM   #46
barry.clemons
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Re: When did you stop being a beginner in Aikido?

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Zach Trent wrote: View Post
I wonder how people could tell (or if) when they stopped being a beginner at Aikido and moved onto "comfortable" or "intermediate". Was it a belt rank? Was it something internal? Was there a mile-stone involved? Maybe it was such gradual process that you didn't notice!

I ask because I'm beginning to feel a little more comfortable about this martial art, but I still have classes where I leave more puzzled than when I came in! Maybe I can learn from you about your experience in progressing

Thanks!

Zach, Brattleboro, VT
(Without going past post #2) IMHO I will never stop being a beginner in Aikido because to get 'comfortable' is to get complacent.

Part of that is my own personal discovery of something new every time I train. Part of that is my instructors never-ending job, reminding me that I have more to learn.

I remember my first test, my first promotion. The very next class, I'm lined up in my new position, proudly in seiza. My instructor for the day sees me; see's my new position, and my pride (but no crime in that, of course). Went to work on me, having me do forward and backward rolls. For some reason, I was not rolling right for him, even though it was right two days ago... Needless to say, 50 rolls later, he explains to me that my exam was pretty much a snapshot of my peformance, to a certain level or standard; now began a new evolution of training.

I understand what you mean, about things becoming easier for you to do (tenkan, irimi, ukemi). Here's how I test myself; I make it a point to train most of the time with someone who has less experience than me so I can have the opportunity express what I've learned with them in training. For me, that's be best measurement of my training; how well I can convey it to someone else on the mat.
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Old 08-30-2008, 12:12 AM   #47
Shane Mokry
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Re: When did you stop being a beginner in Aikido?

Keith,

I like your teacher.
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