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Old 10-22-2003, 05:29 AM   #1
Eik
Join Date: Sep 2003
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Question Aikido politics..

When I first started Aikido ca 1 year ago, it seemed as a calm and plesant enviroment. (stil does). We are a branch(?) dojo, (not yet officialy opened, due on nov 2.) ca3 hours from our sensei. Since we are so distant, we dont hear or get involved to much in the politics of Aikido.

Now I have graded a few times, and gotten more interested in fiding out more about the art. 1; what kind of thing would be disrespectful to my sensei or others? (ex: inviting a guest instructor without asking/clearing with him/her first?, or inviting members from a different association to fill up available spaces on seminars? --Things like that.....

2; On the bigger picture (international), there seems to be other conflicts between aikidoka, that I`ve read some about on the internet.. (ex: Britain)

Can anyone please explain some of these things to me? -It just seem strange that an art dedicated to living in harmony can be so conflicted (if it is)...


I`d rather pe posting in the anonymous forum, but the chance of getting a reply here is greater..


-It is not my intention to be stepping on anyones toes here, just to get some clarity on things..

<thanks
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Old 10-22-2003, 06:20 AM   #2
Tim Griffiths
Dojo: Nes Ziona Aikikai
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Hi Erik,

Welcome to the wonderful world of aiki-politics. Basically, its a big mess and a pain in the butt. Too complicated and plain boring to explain here.

You don't mention what style you are. Basically, your style - good, everyone else's style - spawn of some brain-dead part-time ukedeshi who spent the whole time in class picking their nose and missed the one and only TRUTH of aikido as explained clearly by O-sensei to those who were willing to listen.

If your sensei never mentions ki, then those dojo's who do are weak and dragging unneeded mystic mumbo-jumbo into a real martial art. If your sensei talks about ki, then those dojo that don't are missing the True (tm) nature of aikido.

If your sensei does mainly static movements, then those who don't do them are missing out on the basics of aikido. If he does mainly flowing ki no nagare movements then everyone else is stuck doing basics and cannot really advance.

If everyone in you class wears hakama, then those who don't have no sense of Japanese tradition, and so can't be learning True (tm) aikido. If no-one wear one, then those dojo that do are stuck doing a nice dance, but not training for real (who wears a skirt on the street?). If, of course, only the dan-grades wear one, then its a dojo slavishly following the aikikai hombu example due to dubious WWII cloth shortages.

Get the idea?

OR: You could have a home dojo and style, but visit as many different dojo and styles as possible, go on as many courses as possible (hint: aikido-l seminar!), and take whatever works best for your physically build, aikido philosophy and temperament.

Be Warned, though! This is a lot harder and requires opening your mind and thinking a little about what every movement in every technique is really trying to achieve, and the best way to do it. You should be ready to constantly question (in a good way) how you are doing aikido, if it is what you want, and how you can really improve it. Sounds like a lot of work - better to just stick to being a defender of True (tm) aikido....

Now, some more helpful advice:

Basic rule of survival: Don't do anything like inviting another sensei, or anything that involves another sensei and the rest of your class, without talking to and getting approval from your own sensei. Its not polite, even offensive, to do otherwise. Depending how big a bug he/she has in their arse, you may want to talk to them before even going to see or train with someone else.

As to why its like this? As there's no (real) competition in aikido, we can't really tell who's aikido is better, and who's is worse. So any arguments are based around preferences and styles. Clashes of ego can't be sorted out in a boxing ring, so instead we get fragmentation and divisions.

It went on like this for a long time, but what we're seeing more and more of in the last 5 years or so is the rejoining of clubs together, under umbrella organisations (like the BAB in the UK), or some 'renegade' Japanese sensei coming (and being welcomed) back into aikikai. Even the splintering within ki society is being healed (to some small extent).

So its not all bad news. The good news is that its not the old fogies who knew O-sensei who will heal the divisions in aikido,

its us - the people who go to different teachers, learn that different is just different, not worse, and eventually become heads of our own organisations that are a lot more tolerant of each other, and help to improve everyone's aikido.

Dream on,

Tim

If one makes a distinction between the dojo and the battlefield, or being in your bedroom or in public, then when the time comes there will be no opportunity to make amends. (Hagakure)
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Old 10-22-2003, 07:36 AM   #3
Paula Lydon
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~~Ick! It's there, yes, I choose to ignore most of it. You get 3 people in one room and you've got politics. Did I mention...Ick!?

~~Paula~~
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Old 10-22-2003, 07:53 AM   #4
indomaresa
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Tim here said everything that needs to be said. A little harsh, but I guess he had his brush with aiki-politics.

-human nature-

The road is long...
The path is steep...
So hire a guide to show you the shortcuts
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Old 10-22-2003, 08:16 AM   #5
SeiserL
 
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IMHO, Aikido prinicples are the ideals we all work towards, but being human we often fall short.

Politics come from the personal ego problems that people are here to work out. Have compassion for those who feel so much fear and insecurity that they choose the path of politics over the path of love.

Its everywhere. But at least our discussion about it means that we are aware of it. And when the ego quiets, we all know the right thing to do. So lets not add to the ego and politics and choose to keep our own personal training open.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 10-22-2003, 10:14 AM   #6
Eik
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Thank you for clearing up some of this!

-My style is: Aikikai, (like you said: "the one and only TRUTH of aikido as explained clearly by O-sensei")

-Ki is mentioned, static movements are inevitable as a beginner, but we do ofcourse train to get them flowing.

-We wear hakama from 3rd kyu. (to seperate beginers from those with some experience)

-As for inviting other sensei, I am not in a position to do so. (I have to go throug my instructor, who probably have to clear this with my sensei)

Those who ignore history are
bound to repeat it.
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Old 10-22-2003, 11:44 AM   #7
Erik
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Quote:
Eirik Odden (Eik) wrote:
-My style is: Aikikai, (like you said: "the one and only TRUTH of aikido as explained clearly by O-sensei")
Explained clearly?
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Old 10-22-2003, 12:45 PM   #8
BKimpel
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It's funny that we use the word politics in Aikido, which in my opinion isn't completely correct since political infers a political or power struggle agenda and I don't honestly see most of the differences in Aikido styles and organizations as struggles for power or even to prove themselves better than others (although it is often manifested in the ways Tim described)…but just teaching style differences.

Almost every difference you see in Aikido is a difference in the way that particular teacher, style or organization chooses to teach Aikido. The fundamentals are the same, but one teacher prefers to concentrate on one aspect more than another (assumingly because they saw a lack of attention being given to that subject by other teachers), or one teacher prefers to do attacks a certain way, etc.

Truthfully the only time these "politics" even affect you are when you want that little piece of paper (a rank certificate). Then you are thrust into a world of particulars, you must conform to your teachers preferences and teaching method in order to receive rank.

Again you need to conform to your teacher's teaching model in order to be graded by him or her…makes sense.

When I studied karate I saw the exact same thing. I originally studied Tsuroka-style karate (named after the guy who developed the teaching method -- but based on chito-ryu karate), and when I later switched to shotokan karate I didn't have to change one single thing -- even the techniques were the same. But the teaching and training methods were completely different. Was one better than another…not really they each just chose to concentrate on different aspects of the same thing, one started you off in kumite (sparring) right from day one, while the other practiced kata and waza for quite a few kyu ranks before doing kumite.

The point is if you can see the principles in Aikido, you will see value in every style of Aikido and you may find one teaching style you prefer or you may find bits of each you like, etc.

So while many people say the politics are the "human side" of Aikido, that's true in some cases but mostly its just differences of teaching styles and when you look at it like that -- there is no issue. When you ask yourself why did O-sensei tolerate so many "styles" even when he was alive, he allowed them to teach the principles any way they saw fit and saw merit in approaching the same destination from different paths...or he would have kicked them out -- no?

Last edited by BKimpel : 10-22-2003 at 12:49 PM.

Bruce Kimpel
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Old 10-22-2003, 12:57 PM   #9
Ari Bolden
 
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Tim,

I very muched liked your response. Very well put.

cheers

Ari

The way is the way...

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Old 10-22-2003, 06:15 PM   #10
kironin
 
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Quote:
Eirik Odden (Eik) wrote:
Thank you for clearing up some of this!

-My style is: Aikikai, (like you said: "the one and only TRUTH of aikido as explained clearly by O-sensei")

-Ki is mentioned, static movements are inevitable as a beginner, but we do ofcourse train to get them flowing.

-We wear hakama from 3rd kyu. (to seperate beginers from those with some experience)

-As for inviting other sensei, I am not in a position to do so. (I have to go throug my instructor, who probably have to clear this with my sensei)
Hmmm...

sounds like you are in the Ki Society.

just replace "O-" with "Tohei" and your done.



Craig

- who just moved to one level of aiki-hell lower than Jun.
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Old 10-22-2003, 08:46 PM   #11
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Aikido politics..

Quote:
Eirik Odden (Eik) wrote:
When I first started Aikido ca 1 year ago, it seemed as a calm and plesant enviroment. (stil does). We are a branch(?) dojo, (not yet officialy opened, due on nov 2.) ca3 hours from our sensei. Since we are so distant, we dont hear or get involved to much in the politics of Aikido.

Now I have graded a few times, and gotten more interested in fiding out more about the art. 1; what kind of thing would be disrespectful to my sensei or others? (ex: inviting a guest instructor without asking/clearing with him/her first?, or inviting members from a different association to fill up available spaces on seminars? --Things like that.....

2; On the bigger picture (international), there seems to be other conflicts between aikidoka, that I`ve read some about on the internet.. (ex: Britain)

Can anyone please explain some of these things to me? -It just seem strange that an art dedicated to living in harmony can be so conflicted (if it is)...

I`d rather pe posting in the anonymous forum, but the chance of getting a reply here is greater..

-It is not my intention to be stepping on anyones toes here, just to get some clarity on things..

<thanks
Hello Eirik,

I became aware of dojo politics long before I was aware of the organizational labyrinth. It was right there, on and off the mat, and centred on power: the power of the Japanese instructor and among those to whom he chose to delegate it—or not. This was not just a matter of the organization of the dojo—secretary, treasurer and such like, but also involved technical proficiency, since the ablest students were in some sense 'closest' to the instructor.

I will not say politics are unavoidable. In my very first (university) dojo there were only six students, who attended every class and we had no need of secretaries, treasurers, or grades. Everything was transparent, or as transparent as possible with a Japanese instructor with limited English. But this all changed when the instructor returned to Japan, we graduated and had to find other places to train.

In some sense the politics of the Japanese martial arts outside Japan are a reflection of the domestic version, which itself is a reflection of wider social behaviour in Japan. I mean by this that Japanese instructors who came abroad to teach simply replicated the dojo structure they had grown up in.

Why are there politics in martial arts like aikido?

Well, for one thing it is a social/cultural activity. For another, it is a DO, in the sense that everyone practising, from the most proficient shihan to the fumbling beginner, has both a past and a future. In other words, we are always on the way to something better, or worse.

Even such a seemingly obvious thing as being "dedicated to living in harmony" has a political dimension. It is not immediately obvious what it means and I have sometimes heard it brought up by powerholders as a reason why their more outrageous ideas should be accepted.

As you see, I take a wider view and do not accept the idea that politics exists only outside the confines of the local dojo.

Best regards,

P A Goldsbury
_______________________
Hiroshima, Japan
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Old 10-23-2003, 02:03 AM   #12
Abasan
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If I were you, I won't even bother about involving yourself in aikido politics, such as ingratiating yourself to your sensei and etc. You want to learn aikido, so learn. From anyone. If your sensei taught you that you can learn aikido even as you practiced with beginners, he wouldn't fault you for learning from other teachers would he?

Besides, US has a whole bunch of great aikidoist... you have the chance that some of us don't, to learn from these great people. Maybe you are lucky enough to have a sensei or sempai that fits in this small band, maybe not. But even if you don't, you have the chance to visit them. If you don't and they die off, then you only have yourself to blame.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 10-23-2003, 02:27 AM   #13
Kevin Leavitt
 
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I liked Peter's response.

I have always struggled with moving around and going to different dojos/schools/instructors etc. In one dojo they want you to hold your hand this way, in another it is important to do it another way. I always get frustrated by that (more my ego than anything else.)

While I have been studying actively for about 10 years I have failed to obtain Dan rank in any one system because of my constant moving (in the Army).

I consider myself to be proficient martially, and I am happy with my personal growth. So it has never been an issue for me. (promotion).

Anyway, as I am getting older, I recognize the importance of getting Dan rank and aligning myself to an organization for various reasons. That will mean I will have to suck it up and do things the way a particular organization wants me to do thing.

The thing I have always tried to focus on is that it is okay to make adjustments as long as it is not violating your principles. Changing a style, timing, foot step, or technique is not that big of a deal as long as it still works with in the broad guide of principle. I have found that there is a great deal of latitude in this area in aikido. Yes, it hurts the ego sometimes, but in the end you grow.

I alway said that experience was something you get from doing something wrong or making a mistake! So with this in mind, adapting yourself helps you grow!

As far as dojo politics. I try not to get involved. There are important things in a large dojo such as money, leadership, philosophy etc that need to be discussed and mediated. Therefore, their are politics to assist in that process. Unless you are a part of the dojo senior leadership, it is wise to stay out of it.

Train- ignore rumors, gossip, and opinions, and if a sensei wants you change your posture then do it, you might just learn something...even if it is that you'd never do it that way once your sensei!

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Old 10-23-2003, 03:21 AM   #14
johanlook
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Yep it sucks bad. Call it what you want but we all know what it is and it sucks.
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Old 10-23-2003, 11:14 AM   #15
mengsin
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My late master always said that 'you are the master of the art ' and the most disappointing things in life is people.

mengsin
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Old 10-27-2003, 06:39 PM   #16
David Yap
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Quote:
mengsin ng (mengsin) wrote:
My late master always said that 'you are the master of the art ' and the most disappointing things in life is people.
Meng Sin,

Can you please elaborate/add substance to the statement(s)you made. You seem to have mis-quoted your teacher or left out some text.

"People" include your parents, your siplings, your spouse, your children, your friends, etc. All or most of them were disappointments to you??

"You are the master of the art" - meaning you do not need to learn from anyone???

I guess you can see the idiot I'm.

Regards

David
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Old 10-30-2003, 08:45 AM   #17
indomaresa
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i've heard the terms mengsin ng mentioned from a certain wushu teacher I often meet.

And I think what it means ( quoting from the teacher ) is;

you're the master of the art - your progress in learning is solely your own responsibility, not other's. It's your choice to do things or to refrain from it. ( in this case, letting politics bother you )

The most dissapointing thing in life is people - Because the human mind is fickle and hard to predict, resentment, ambition, ego, etcetera can appear and fester on any person's mind, always without him/her realizing it. This is always what keeps a person from reaching his full potential.

I've gotten some counseling from the said teacher on some problems. And the conversation is always very enlightening.

Perhaps mengsin can confirm whether what he means is similar or not?

Maresa

The road is long...
The path is steep...
So hire a guide to show you the shortcuts
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Old 10-30-2003, 05:19 PM   #18
drunken_master
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I join a dojo last year Nov, soon after that I found I was not welcome at all. The last one year I only devoted to learn the following:

1) posture, mai

2) irimi, irimi tenkan

3) big circle, spiral

4) look where you go, follow the flow

5) dance, don't fight

6) smile, take ukemi

7) seiza, kiza

I really don't know what wrong with me why other hate me so much, all I know is that I drank a bit too much, I spot long hair.

Soon after a trip to a seminar in singapore, I was accused of embarrassing a 7 dan shihan while I was only a 5th kyu. Can you imagine that? But you seem to buy it too. Nobody ever mentioned how I took the ukemi to save my butt.

All I want is to learn from the best teacher, and I believe that I have found one. If you want to learn from a sensei who learn 31 kata jo suburi from a 5th kyu who can't even move, if you want to learn from a sensei whom master is 2nd kyu, I think you better go to see a doctor to check whether you have suffered brain damage from ukemi.

Last monday, while I did a kokyunage on the so-called sensei, he countered my technique to show how power he was, I was so furious I gave him a slap on his face. After more than 10 years of training in aikido he can't even escape my yokomenuchi.

That is the real reasons why I am no welcome at all. 'Cos I am the real bad guy who slap the sensei.
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Old 10-30-2003, 08:32 PM   #19
David Yap
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Quote:
Maresa Sumardi (indomaresa) wrote:
i've heard the terms mengsin ng mentioned from a certain wushu teacher I often meet.

And I think what it means ( quoting from the teacher ) is;

you're the master of the art - your progress in learning is solely your own responsibility, not other's. It's your choice to do things or to refrain from it. ( in this case, letting politics bother you )

The most dissapointing thing in life is people - Because the human mind is fickle and hard to predict, resentment, ambition, ego, etcetera can appear and fester on any person's mind, always without him/her realizing it. This is always what keeps a person from reaching his full potential.

I've gotten some counseling from the said teacher on some problems. And the conversation is always very enlightening.

Perhaps mengsin can confirm whether what he means is similar or not?

Maresa
Now, this is meaningful. Thanks Meresa.

Regards

David
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Old 10-30-2003, 08:47 PM   #20
David Yap
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Quote:
Eu Soon Ong (drunken_master) wrote:
<snipped>

I really don't know what wrong with me why other hate me so much, all I know is that I drank a bit too much, I spot long hair.
Do you go to the dojo drunk? If not, it is not your drinking. It must be your long hair then. I can imagine it is all greasy and filthy and people are slipping all over the mat due to grease you left behind or they can't stand the horrible smell of your hair and the stains on their dogi each time they do the irimi nage with you
Quote:
<snipped>

All I want is to learn from the best teacher, and I believe that I have found one. If you want to learn from a sensei who learn 31 kata jo suburi from a 5th kyu who can't even move, if you want to learn from a sensei whom master is 2nd kyu, I think you better go to see a doctor to check whether you have suffered brain damage from ukemi.
You must be drunk at the dojo. Are you sober enough to read what you wrote? Do us a favour - tell us where you train to save us the mat fees

Last edited by David Yap : 10-30-2003 at 08:51 PM.
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Old 10-31-2003, 06:23 AM   #21
Nick Simpson
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I dont really understand what you mean but if you slapped your sensei I dont think youd be welcome, look for another dojo mate.

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 11-07-2003, 12:03 AM   #22
sanosuke
Dojo: Seigi Dojo
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Quote:
you're the master of the art - your progress in learning is solely your own responsibility, not other's. It's your choice to do things or to refrain from it. ( in this case, letting politics bother you )
that's very true, couldn't agree more with maresa. The result of our training is not determined by other people, but only by ourselves. this, actually, includes in your daily life too.
Quote:
Last monday, while I did a kokyunage on the so-called sensei, he countered my technique to show how power he was, I was so furious I gave him a slap on his face. After more than 10 years of training in aikido he can't even escape my yokomenuchi.
I don't understand why you did this Eu Soon, in my understanding and experience if your sensei counter your technique then there must be something wrong with it, and actually you can use this opportunity to ask the sensei to correct it. We must show our sincerity to our partner during training, including when we were being countered. Oh, and if i'm not mistaken you're furious isn't it? Please don't , being furious only make your technique sloppier, which is more vulnerable to more kaeshi-waza.
Quote:
All I want is to learn from the best teacher, and I believe that I have found one. If you want to learn from a sensei who learn 31 kata jo suburi from a 5th kyu who can't even move, if you want to learn from a sensei whom master is 2nd kyu, I think you better go to see a doctor to check whether you have suffered brain damage from ukemi.
mmmm....i don't get this , maybe you could explain it more?
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Old 11-07-2003, 07:54 AM   #23
aikidocapecod
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In Saotome Sensei's book The Principles of Aikido, the first line of his introduction says,

"I worry about the conflicts that I see arise between different styles and schools of AIkido."

The first line of the second paragraph he says,

"Aikido has but one principle-the universal reality of life."

If there is a voice in Aikido that should be listened to with great respect, it is the voice of Saotome Sensei. Aikido by its very nature should be devoid of politics because one element that makes up politics on any platform is ego.

O'Sensei said that before one can begin on the path of Aiki, one must have no ego.
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Old 11-07-2003, 08:13 AM   #24
aikidoc
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Slapping your instructor for reversing your technique is inexcusable. Sorry but that's my opinion. He/She may have been trying to point out the openings in your technique or moving into instruction in kaeshi waza. You would be expelled from any school I teach in for such unprofessional and immature behavior. If you want to learn from the best you need to develop discipline and patience. Good instructors will not be willing to train someone with so little contro over their emotions.
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Old 11-07-2003, 08:54 AM   #25
aikidocapecod
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Aikido = The Path of Harmony

I have never seen slapping and harmony in the sane sentence
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