Little House In Ise

Evening Class
May 15, 2010, 18:07
Filed under: Aikido | Tags: , ,

I had the opportunity to enjoy an evening class recently (ed. it was March). This usually just means a new set of students with whom to train but in this case it also meant a new Honbu Shihan. I had never trained under this sensei but had heard a bit of grousing about his teaching style, mind you, the harshest complaint I had heard was that he talks too much in class. For an Aikido sensei, he did talk more than I am used to but it certainly didn’t slow the class down. I actually enjoyed the slightly different flavor.

Early in the class sensei approached a student who arrived late. The student apologized for being tardy but sensei brushed that off and replied, “In the old days, teachers would get angry when students arrived late. Now we are just happy that you come at all. Thank you for coming to my class”. Hearing that sort of attitude expressed by a senior (in rank and years) sensei was refreshing.

My partner that evening was an Iranian with a particularly martial flair to his movements. Every entry and most turns had some sort of nasty little atemi. Every time I threw an atemi into him he blocked appropriately. As class progressed, we also progressively increased our intensity. Space was limited so we neither threw too high nor too hard but we did move and strike quickly. Despite the speed our Aikido itself was pretty calm and smooth (my body just moves better in the evening). Every-so-often we tried reverses but even then avoided brute force. Even so, Sensei noticed us and made a point of stopping us for a moment. He said that when we go back to our countries to teach we couldn’t just teach the “hard stuff” we also had to demonstrate soft Aikido as well.

Thoughts of home have been coming to me more frequently lately and this reminder of it in an Aikido context was oddly disconcerting. One moment I was keeping a very serious martial artist from punching my throat and the next I was thinking of family, friends and life at home — very distracting. It was flattering that he seems to expect us both to teach.

All in all, it was a good evening and my partner was brilliant. I had not trained with an Iranian before and can only believe that when he does return to his home country he will have a wealth of Aikido to teach.


4 Comments so far
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Welcome back, it has been a while.

It sounds like they’re becoming more “westernized” – my American Aikido teachers often say that in Japan (Honbu specifically) the Aikido Sensei don’t speak at all – they simply demonstrate and let the students figure the rest out.

Comment by Accidental Aikidoist

Oh! About teachers speaking in class: your sensei is corect. Most Honbu instructors say very little more than technique names. However, the older guys seem to have a lot on their minds and tend to talk more than the younger teachers. The best example of this is Tada-sensei (who only rarely shows up at Honbu) will spend more than half of his alloted time talking about Aikido philosophy.

Comment by Eric Holcomb


Yeah, I’ve been a bit distracted. A buddy went back to Germany and left me a large pile of books. I have been eating my way through the pile. Turns out that books are major demotivators for my writing! (Will the Shrike destroy all of humanity? Who wins the war between the AI god and the human god? Stay tuned to the next paper-back in the pile)! 🙂

I have a couple of “pure” Aikido topics that I am mulling over, the Mad Danes are in town and the All-Japan Event is next weekend. I’ll have more to post soonish.

Comment by Eric Holcomb

Howdy Eric,
Talking on the mats isn’t bad unless you do too much of it. I think that the older guys tend to talk more because they know more. And they want to give us a shortcut to knowledge. But I think there is a point where you need to stop talking because everyone isn’t always ready to hear what is being said.

And the Shrike, I do believe I read a couple of those books. I thought it was excellent Sci-Fi.

Comment by Eddie deGuzman

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