My answer to a very good question:
My answer to a very good question:
I recently attended an Aikido seminar that was hosted by the Seikeikan Dojo of Sacramento, California that featured my Sensei.
After the final Sunday training session had concluded, some of the event's participants got together for a "meeting of the appetites" at a local eatery found in the area. During the course of the meal, I was asked a question by a kohai in the group that, at the time, seemed innocent enough. However, upon reflecting on that same question during my flight home, I came to a realization that the question reached much deeper than I had initially thought or at least deeper than the cursory once over I had given it at first.
All he asked me was, "What had I gotten out of the seminar?"
At first I answered the question in the same manner in which I answer questions of a similar vein. Questions like, "How did you like the seminar?" or "What did I think of the instructor?" I began to answer honestly but somewhat superficially as I explained that there were certain points in my kihon dosa (basic movements) that I needed to work on in order to improve my balance. Also, certain deficiencies that occur throughout various points of my techniques needed to be worked out as well [a.k.a. the need for more practice].
Although at the time these were honest and correct statements, the fact of the matter is, I could have stayed at home and come to this very same conclusion all on my own. Heck, if I was really itching for a dose of reality, I could just video tape a practice session and mail it off to my Sensei and waited in the comfort of my own home for the barrage of critique that would be sure to follow!
Instead, I found myself in a moment of reflection, pondering this question that was asked of me earlier. What was I taking home with me that was going to enhance my Aikido? Yes indeed, a very good question!
How many times during conversations that many have held, is the concept that Aikido goes beyond the mere physical techniques that we practice, been thrown around? That the essence of what we study lays in the lessons that we learn as a result of what we practice on the mats? I know that I've said it. You've probably said it as well.
I believe in this statement whole heartedly.
In the world of Yoshinkan Aikido, a set formula has been laid before us and differences are highly visible [and often misinterpreted]. In the past I have heard mention that some senior instructor's vision of Yoshinkan Aikido, though highly praised, is not a path for junior students of the art to emulate because of these differences.
I mention this only because it relates to what I am bringing home from this seminar.
The fact of the matter is people get old. Body parts tend to not function the way they used too. Invariably we learn to compensate for our deficiencies and carry on. This is the cycle that we call "life". It is an ongoing expression of utilization of what has been learned from the past in ways to enhance the future.
This very knowledge is why I continue to attend seminars that feature my Sensei.
During his four decades of dedicated study of Yoshinkan Aikido, his vision has become strong. His daily interaction with the people around him provides a positive example of the correct way to implement aikido technique into everything that you do. His example clearly shows right from wrong if you are willing to practice with nothing but truth and honesty in your heart. The dedication that his instruction brings out in others, as they struggle to get to where he has come from, is absolutely staggering.
If one remains just slightly open to the advice that he has to offer those that are willing to ask for it then just maybe all the blistering critique that was rendered before was not all so bad after all.
I now know that these are just some of the lessons that I am taking home with me from the seminar. I take them with me hoping to include them into my own Aikido practice. I do so thankful in the knowledge that my Sensei has provided a blueprint for me to follow and all I have to do is be willing to practice it without cutting any corners.
That being said, all I have left to say is thank you Sensei. Thank you for teaching me Aikido. And to you too Kohai! Thank you for asking a very good question.