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Old 10-07-2004, 05:25 AM   #1
Nick P.
 
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Why does this keep happening?

Why does this keep happening?

Like the rising of the sun, the changing of the seasons and the ebb and flow of the tides, every now and again a new member arrives in the club who has trained elsewhere starts correcting others' techniques.

I had the chance to say "Hello, my name is Nick; nice to meet you." And we shook hands. I was nage first, and by the second throw he asked "Why don't you move here? It would be much better." I was a little surprised and just smiled. Later (same technique), "You should use the other hand also".

Maybe it's this cold I have had for a week, or the sinus drugs, but I lost it; "What does it matter which hand is which as long as I have taken your balance?" (which I will admit I was not doing well, but still). And on we trained like that for the rest of the evening, except I simply stopped responding to his comments. He got the message and we trained in silence.

In hindsight, I should have welcomed the challenge of being criticized, and perhaps even missed the chance to learn from him. But, and this is my real issue, why would you walk into a new dojo and start correcting people? Are you there to learn what is being taught and share what you know, or to tell everyone their faults? I doubt most people would enjoy me showing up in their dojo and commenting "Why don't you have a better picture of O-Sensei?" or "Why do you leave yourself so open?" in the first evening, or ever for that matter.

I should not let what others say bother me, and usually I am pretty thick (headed?) skinned, and know full well that what others do or say matters little in my own training.

Afterwords, in the changing room, I made it a point to again welcome this new member (being club manager left me little choice) and ask the usual polite questions: where are you from, how long have you been here, etc, etc. And I am glad we talked, and I hope he returns.

So, please post your replies, and thanks for letting me vent.

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Old 10-07-2004, 09:33 AM   #2
Bridge
Dojo: Slough Aikikai
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Re: Why does this keep happening?

Perhaps your keen sense of manners/pacifism meant you let ,what would have been perceived as rude, just ride?

I know I did a few weeks ago when some guy (new to club but not martial arts) was practicing with me plus a friendly yudansha.

This guy was very critical of me and spoke to the yudansha about me as if I was some kind of inanimate object that wasn't working. I was kind of offended at the time but just let it pass. I guess I missed the opportunity to find out how I could improve what I was doing, but it is hard when someone is so harsh.

We're only human.

(Not sure if it was a "cultural thing" with this guy or the fact it was my first session wearing hakama, and he misinterpreted it. But still.)
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Old 10-07-2004, 09:55 AM   #3
aikidoc
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Re: Why does this keep happening?

There are several things to consider here:
1. There should only be one instructor on the mat.
2. If the other person is a black belt and you are a beginner then the feed back could be good for your growth.
3. Some people have a tendency to correct others even when it is inappropriate. They often don't mean anything by it-they just may be teachers by disposition.
4. Were they doing the technique like your instructor showed or were they modifying it based on their prior training? If the former then perhaps their feed back would be beneficial. It the latter, then that is a problem. That one instructor on the mat thing.
5. Are you sensitive to others correcting you?
6. How good are you at modeling what the instructor showed vs the other person?
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Old 10-07-2004, 10:17 AM   #4
Nick P.
 
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Re: Why does this keep happening?

Thanks Bridget and John: I have asked myself those questions before, and come up with the same conclusions you both mention. One caveat, however:

Quote:
John Riggs wrote:
5. Are you sensitive to others correcting you?
I think I am only sensitive to complete strangers (under 2 minutes of acquaintance) correcting my technique. Now, if it's the Doshu, a Shihan or a Sensei's seminar that's a little different. From my Sensei, Sempai or even a few trusted Kohai.....lay it on me; I do after all want to get better. If I would have reciprocated (which I could have in spades) it would have just degraded. I chose to not let that happen.

I realize now (after the drugs have worn off a bit) is that I thought, and still think, that that is simply rude behavior. Period.

Now, I will get past this, whatever he says he says, and hope I have found a good training partner.

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Old 10-07-2004, 10:35 AM   #5
Aikidoiain
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Re: Why does this keep happening?

Personally, I don't mind being corrected by whoever it may be, because at the end of the day the only person I listen to is the Sensei.

I am the new member at the local Aikido club, and would NEVER go into that situation with such an arrogant attitude. Besides, I am in no position to correct anyone! I think it's a matter of etiquette more than anything.

If I were in your position, I would speak to the person about this issue, rather than ignore it.

Iain.
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Old 10-07-2004, 10:42 AM   #6
JAHsattva
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Re: Why does this keep happening?

i prefer to train in silence.

it is the nature of aikido to become intuitive and percieve body language.
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Old 10-07-2004, 10:57 AM   #7
Aikidoiain
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Re: Why does this keep happening?

We don't talk during practice, but use gestures and body language to communicate.

Discussion happens after the training - not during.

The Sensei is the only one who should be talking when training. He'll often come up to an individual and almost whisper any corrections, apart from observing these rules of etiquette, the club is very informal. The Sensei can often be quite comical at times, and have us all laughing. I think this is healthy.

Iain.
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Old 10-07-2004, 12:45 PM   #8
Jonathan
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Re: Why does this keep happening?

"When in Rome..."

I think it is very impolite to enter a dojo as a stranger and offer unsolicited advice on technique. Shutup, train, and earn the right to advise others on their aikido.

I remember our shihan, Kawahara sensei, loudly asking a verbose junior student at a seminar, "Are you the teacher? Are you the teacher?" HIs tone made it clear that this student was not. HIs point was: only the teacher does the teaching.

Jon.

"Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend."
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Old 10-07-2004, 02:35 PM   #9
Don_Modesto
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Re: Why does this keep happening?

I don't like getting unsolicited advice myself because I'm usually not overly concerned with whether I'm doing the technique "right". Technique is not the "text" of this interaction, it's the pretext.

My text is trying to get into flow where technique just happens. Resistance facilitates this, talk destroys it: A psycho/physical activity suddenly becomes social and I have to consciously pay attention and have good manners and listen politely. UKE's good intentions have damaged my training. I try to avoid doing this to others.

MUSHIN (literally "no-mindedness," flow, that state of automaticity where training kicks in as action/reaction/response) is the opposite of conscious processes like this.

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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http://www.theaikidodojo.com/
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Old 10-07-2004, 03:35 PM   #10
MaryKaye
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Re: Why does this keep happening?

Maybe you just have someone from a distinctly different teaching tradition. Dojo vary a *lot* in how much coaching is permitted or encouraged. I come from one at the extreme "talky" end of the spectrum, and try though I might to bite my tongue when I'm elsewhere, I have probably offended in exactly the way you describe. Your newcomer will probably catch on to the local culture soon.

One of my teachers said to me this week, "Don't stop your junior's throw unless you can tell him clearly what he is doing wrong and at least a suggestion on how to fix it. If you can just stop him and don't know why, you're probably taking advantage of your overall experience and confidence, not teaching a useful lesson." This is the opposite of the ideal most of this thread has been discussing, but it works for us. Having dojo all over the spectrum in this regard probably increases the breadth of people who can learn aikido, which must be a good thing.

Mary Kaye
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Old 10-07-2004, 04:05 PM   #11
Nick P.
 
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Re: Why does this keep happening?

I agree that there is of course the chance that that is how his former dojo did things; who knows, maybe he felt so instantly at home with our group that he just dove right in. Maybe thats a good thing.

Our dojo can and does get talky, and I am known to get talky especially when I am teaching, but like Jason said above, I prefer to train in silence.

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Old 10-07-2004, 04:29 PM   #12
mj
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Re: Why does this keep happening?

So the first time you shout at him on the mat...and the 2nd time you interrogated him in the changing room.

How was his aikido?

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Old 10-07-2004, 07:51 PM   #13
Nick P.
 
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Re: Why does this keep happening?

Actually, Mark, if by shout you mean scream and by interrogated you mean inquisitioned.....

His aikido, in all fairness, is if not equal than maybe even better than mine; smooth, great ma-ai, and that's the odd part. You know how some people's technique reflects their attitude towards you? That's what was so surprising. Somewhere it registered very quickly that "oh, this guy's technique is good, so whay is he being a bit of a wank?"

Did I mention how he would not let me finish any technique he didn't feel was working? I know full well which of my tecniques SUCK, thank you. I don't need an uke with an ego to tell me that.

I was tempted ("Luke. Come to The Dark Side.") to do the same to him when I found holes in his technique, but he allready drew out a verbal confrontation from me, and I was damned if I was going to fall into that with technique. I went to great lengths to stay connected no matter what.

Probably all he really wanted to do was help. Maybe he's a megalo-maniac who likes to push peoples buttons and just so happens to have good/great technique. Maybe someone dropped him as a kid.

Whatever. I should jusy shut-up and train.

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Old 10-07-2004, 08:01 PM   #14
Nick P.
 
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Re: Why does this keep happening?

Quote:
Mary Kuhner wrote:
One of my teachers said to me this week, "Don't stop your junior's throw unless you can tell him clearly what he is doing wrong and at least a suggestion on how to fix it. If you can just stop him and don't know why, you're probably taking advantage of your overall experience and confidence, not teaching a useful lesson."
If I or anyone would do, as you mentioned above, this to ANYONE, junior or senior, my sensei would be PI$$ED with me. He by no means runs a strict dojo, but THAT is considered 1-bad form 2-poor technique and 3-rude.

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Old 10-07-2004, 09:05 PM   #15
giriasis
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Re: Why does this keep happening?

Quote:
If I or anyone would do, as you mentioned above, this to ANYONE, junior or senior, my sensei would be PI$$ED with me. He by no means runs a strict dojo, but THAT is considered 1-bad form 2-poor technique and 3-rude.
And I think that just goes back to Mary's point, which I agree with, that many dojo's operate by distinctly different rules. And it can be really confusing when you visit or change schools. Apparently in her dojo such behavior is not bad form, poor technique or even rude. My dojo is pretty talky and sensei actively encourages the senior to help the junior especially in the Basics classes, and juniors are allowed to speak up to the senior when they are going to hard, or as I'm discovering now, not hard enough. I have discovered that many transfers into our dojo still train according to the standards of their previous dojo, and I can sense their frustrations, especially if they are of the "no or hardly any talk" variety. As a result they will try to get sensei to change than rather attempt to conform to the dojo.

I, too, have experienced similar frustrations with people who have previously trained with different standards to the point where you just have to stop practicing with each other because both people end up getting mad. Sometimes people have gotten hurt as a result of insisting on doing things their own way. That IS rude not only to your partner, but to the sensei as well. Needless to say, that person doesn't train in our dojo anymore.

Although when I visit other dojos, I try very hard to not say anything to my partner and try my best to conform to their rules. I just try to let my ukemi to speak for itself but not overly resist either.

I'm thinking maybe he hasn't had the benefit of knowing that other dojos are different. Take the time to get to know him and find out what his previous dojo was like, and then segue the conversation into how people train in your dojo. A simple conversation does wonders to rectify a situation.

Last edited by giriasis : 10-07-2004 at 09:12 PM.

Anne Marie Giri
Women in Aikido: a place where us gals can come together and chat about aikido.
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Old 10-07-2004, 10:25 PM   #16
PeterR
 
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Re: Why does this keep happening?

Nick responded

Quote:
Nick Pittson wrote:
If I or anyone would do, as you mentioned above, this to ANYONE, junior or senior, my sensei would be PI$$ED with me. He by no means runs a strict dojo, but THAT is considered 1-bad form 2-poor technique and 3-rude.
to Mary

Quote:
Mary Kuhner wrote:
One of my teachers said to me this week, "Don't stop your junior's throw unless you can tell him clearly what he is doing wrong and at least a suggestion on how to fix it. If you can just stop him and don't know why, you're probably taking advantage of your overall experience and confidence, not teaching a useful lesson."
Under circumstances where kata is being taught what Mary's teacher said seems to me to be perfectly valid. First form, then substance. Shutting down technique is the easiest thing in the world when you know what's coming. If you are going to do it - be constructive.

Now in randori it all goes out the window.

Anyway back to the original problem - I've run into this before and fight hard not to do it myself. You want to help but most of us would rather sip tea with the devil than put up with the know it all stranger. From the other side the worst thing for a visitor is the dreaded 5th kyu Shihan.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 10-07-2004, 11:03 PM   #17
stuartjvnorton
 
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Re: Why does this keep happening?

It's hard to keep an open mind sometimes, but doing so can give some unexpected insights.

Why do 3 different people do the same technique 3 different ways that all seem to work pretty well (all 3 ways being sometimes different to how your sensei does it)? The answers can sometimes help your understanding of the "one true way".
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Old 10-08-2004, 12:11 AM   #18
maikerus
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Re: Why does this keep happening?

I agree it sounds like the guy was a little bit presumptious to start offering advice after only a few minutes of training, and probably not knowing your dojo's particular culture towards talking on the mats or discussing techniques.

On the other hand, how was his advice? Was it good? Did it make sense? Maybe he was just trying to offer some of his insights gained from outside of your own dojo community. If he was honestly thinking he was giving you good feedback, then its hard to hold that against him.

My own thoughts are that you shouldn't immediately start asking for or giving advice even in your own club after only a few minutes training (among the same level - senior/junior is different). Just training will usually fix things you may have missed the first time and if you keep missing a key point then the instructor will corrrect you.

Hiriki no yosei 3 - The kihon that makes your head ache instead of your legs
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Old 10-08-2004, 07:16 AM   #19
mj
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Re: Why does this keep happening?

Quote:
Nick Pittson wrote:
Actually, Mark, if by shout you mean scream and by interrogated you mean inquisitioned......

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Old 10-08-2004, 08:05 AM   #20
Nick P.
 
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Re: Why does this keep happening?

Quote:
Peter Rehse wrote:
You want to help but most of us would rather sip tea with the devil than put up with the know it all stranger. From the other side the worst thing for a visitor is the dreaded 5th kyu Shihan.
Amen!

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Old 10-08-2004, 12:14 PM   #21
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Why does this keep happening?

I know that, over the years, many of my partners did not necessarily welcome my input. But I am a very large guy and as I got more experience I got to the point where I would often find myself training with people who were junior or even peers and they simply couldn't do the technique in question on me.

It wouldn't be productive for me to simply sit there and shut them down. That would really seem like an ego trip, at least in my mind. So I initially train without saying anything and if my partner encounters some trouble I give them a chance to figure out a solution. If they still have trouble I give them some feedback. I want my partner to succeed, this isn't to make them feel little. I think that, especially once one isn't at the Beginner level it is disrepectful to "train down" to them. I try never to tone down my energy and just go through the motions politely with someone. That really is insulting in my mind although they might not think so. No, I try to give them a good attack and then, if they need help, assist them in being successful. I can't tell you the number of times I gave my partner some feedback and on the next throw I hit the mat like a ton of bricks. Then I smile and go "that's it, great!" I have to believe that my partner is better off after that than if I toned down my attack and simply fell down for them. It's my own practice too and I don't have any interest in training that way.

George S. Ledyard
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Aikido Eastside
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Old 10-08-2004, 12:54 PM   #22
SeiserL
 
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Re: Why does this keep happening?

IMHO, "fool me once shame on you, fool me twice and shame on me." If this keeps happening, then you just might be setting yourself up for it. Look inside yourself and get honest. Usually we know why these things keep happening.

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 10-08-2004, 01:04 PM   #23
bob_stra
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Re: Why does this keep happening?

Maybe he was trying to get your approval?

"Wow - this guy know a few things!" That kinda vibe?

Tough spot - my natural instinct (if I feel the guy is trying to be a smartass) is going harder at him. Much harder.

Last time I did that, it got a bit heated and I nearly broke someone's nose. Nowadays, I just do a Colombo and pretend to be dumb. Then hurt him when he's not looking :-)

(ok, ok, I don't really hurt people)

The other way is to say "show me" then shut *him* down. But this too entirely misses the goal of cooperative practice. Plus it introduces some bad feelings into the mix.

The middle ground seems to be to say "show me", try it a few time, then go back to your method, explaining why you prefer it. Then if he still spazzes around, hurt him :-)

(I'm detecting a trend here...)
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Old 10-08-2004, 03:14 PM   #24
Nick P.
 
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Re: Why does this keep happening?

Michael,

Quote:
Michael Stuempel wrote:
IOn the other hand, how was his advice? Was it good? Did it make sense? Maybe he was just trying to offer some of his insights gained from outside of your own dojo community. If he was honestly thinking he was giving you good feedback, then its hard to hold that against him.
The advice was bang-on....not because I have heard it before from my sensei and sempai (and kohai) several times before, but because it was right. I in no way hold it against him that he offered the advice (and I certainly hope I made that clear in my previous posts); but like others have mentioned, it is generally perceived as presumptuous to immediately start giving advice to 1-someone you have been training with for all of 20 seconds and 2-you have been training in the dojo for a grand total of 20 minutes. If I hold anything against him, those 2 things would be it.

Like most here (I assume), I have attended a seminar or two, where you know no-one. Even when I am DIRECTLY asked by a rank newbie (had obi tied around head, jacket on inside out, ukemi that sounds like paralysis might result) to tell them what they are doing wrong I carefully choose what I am going to answer. Usually the answer is "Your doing fine; this is a tough one. Be patient." Not because that will spare their feelings (and miss the chance to really improve their technique), but usually because they are doing well enough, and their sensei/sempai/ the seminar teacher will take them well in hand.

Lynn,

Quote:
Lynn Seiser wrote:
IMHO, "fool me once shame on you, fool me twice and shame on me." If this keeps happening, then you just might be setting yourself up for it. Look inside yourself and get honest. Usually we know why these things keep happening.
I realize I was not clear in the title of my original post; I should have titled it "This happens about every 8 months in our dojo; does it happen where you are?".

I agree with you that if it kept happening to me (it doesn't), I should look within.

However, it does take two tango, as they say. Let's look at it the other way; I am usually the senior student with whomever I am training with at our dojo. There are those who need to figure things out on their own and don't want any help from anyone (after training together for 4 years it's kind of obvious), those who hang on your every word, and everything in between. I don't think I would be doing anyone a service if I insisted on being overly giving of my advice to the person who wants none of it, or of taking the "he should get this one on his own" with the person who is overtly seeking help. Which I think is the point George was making with.....

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
It wouldn't be productive for me to simply sit there and shut them down. That would really seem like an ego trip, at least in my mind. So I initially train without saying anything and if my partner encounters some trouble I give them a chance to figure out a solution. If they still have trouble I give them some feedback. I want my partner to succeed, this isn't to make them feel little. I think that, especially once one isn't at the Beginner level it is disrespectful to "train down" to them. I try never to tone down my energy and just go through the motions politely with someone. That really is insulting in my mind although they might not think so. No, I try to give them a good attack and then, if they need help, assist them in being successful. I can't tell you the number of times I gave my partner some feedback and on the next throw I hit the mat like a ton of bricks. Then I smile and go "that's it, great!" I have to believe that my partner is better off after that than if I toned down my attack and simply fell down for them. It's my own practice too and I don't have any interest in training that way.
...is that there is a fine balance between how you want to train, how you think training should be, your partners expectations versus those first 2 points, never mind how much ego is involved from both parties, the relative barometric pressure at the time etc, etc.

Before this post gets too long (too late!), I would like to say how much I am enjoying where this thread has gone thanks to everyone, and should point out that with each passing hour I find myself more and more able to detach myself from the "event" and cast a critical and hopefully balanced eye on it all.

Thanks!


PS - Tonight, if I do go to class, I actually hope he is there and will seek him out; there is good Aikido to be had! And if the rhetoric continues...

Quote:
Bob Strahinjevich wrote:
Tough spot - my natural instinct (if I feel the guy is trying to be a smartass) is going harder at him. Much harder. Then hurt him when he's not looking :-)

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Old 10-08-2004, 11:39 PM   #25
maikerus
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Re: Why does this keep happening?

Quote:
Nick Pittson wrote:
Before this post gets too long (too late!), I would like to say how much I am enjoying where this thread has gone thanks to everyone, and should point out that with each passing hour I find myself more and more able to detach myself from the "event" and cast a critical and hopefully balanced eye on it all.
Hi Nick,

It sounds like you needed a sounding board and I guess you got it. Thanks for the post...I got a chance to think about some stuff I hadn't really thought about before and I appreciate that.

...and next time I am in Montreal...

cheers,

--Michael

Hiriki no yosei 3 - The kihon that makes your head ache instead of your legs
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