Little House In Ise

Two Hands
April 9, 2008, 16:03
Filed under: Aikido, Expat, Japan | Tags: , , , , ,

At the Mie-ken Aikidokai, Ueda Shihan often tells the kids class, “You have two hands, take two things away each time you train.” It is a philosophy that I have tried to apply to my own training. In practice, if I can learn one concrete thing in a class I am happy. Some days, though, all I get is the awareness that I have moved my body in a pattern that may be a little bit more right than last time. Though not concrete, I can still claim success on those days.

At Honbu however, I often feel as though I don’t have enough hands. Almost everyone who trains there is either a sensei or a sempai. Often I am lucky enough to train with what I have begun to think of as “real sempai”. A partner that likes to give and receive a good hard throw now and again but is also willing to slow down and patiently correct flaws. Repeating and helping me through my flaws (as opposed to criticism without correction) is what I see as the key elements of a real sempai. Recently, I worked with a fellow who gave me several concrete pointers and enough food-for-thought that, at the office, I have had to work hard NOT to think about them. 🙂

It’s brutal honesty time. I am just not confident enough yet to be my own definition of a real sempai — at least not here at Honbu. I have trained with a small handful of people whose rank is lower than my own. I have seen flaws in both technique and posture but I am not yet comfortable offering suggestions. In my last dojo, I was asked for advice often enough that I just started giving it. At Honbu, there are so many amazing teachers around that are much closer to the source that I wouldn’t ask me either.

Also in the spirit of brutal honesty, the esoterica that some of the older guys teach, though clearly powerful, is often too far up the mountain for me to apply. I love the fact that they can sense exactly how to unbalance or redirect my motion but when I am spending my time polishing (grinding?) gross movements their subtle magic is just too distant. So, I will play with the ki wizards when I want to get a sense of where the path leads but stick to real sempai for how-to details. For now though, my hands are full and it is wonderful.


2 Comments so far
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I came across your blog recently; Just wanted to drop a note telling you that I really enjoy your descriptions of dojo life in Japan. I hope to make it there (one day, one day!) but, until then, thanks for writing.

Comment by robert

Thanks for reading!

Comment by Eric Holcomb

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