Category Archives: Aikido

Teaching, part 2

In my last post I commented on a question from one of my students regarding teaching women, or more to the point, is there a different method for teaching men and women? I say this, most do not understand the true nature of teaching.

ALL TEACHING is done by reception and is done in a personal, one-on-one basis. There may be multiple students in the dojo, but all teaching is conducted one-on-one. That was why Cecelia Sensei admonished my black belt students to stop the chatter. You are shadow-teaching and not allowing your partner to experience his or her mistakes having Sensei make the corrections.

That said, my student, singular, is my most important student! My most important is the student I am speaking to; correcting at the moment; practicing with during the execution of technique, or merely looking at during the execution of his/her technique.

In other words, all are taught differently. All require direct teaching.

An observation! Most do not heed my suggestion……. usually because most do not truly hear what I say.’

Teaching

While discussing attendance and how to increase the class size, a different approach was being looked at. Male students were coming in but no new females.

A question came up on how to increase the female membership and/or class participation. Encourage more female practice time on the mat-what an assignment! No insult intended, but have you tried telling a female “what she needs to do,” lately?

All jokes aside, that conversation, as I see it, started off incorrectly. To get into these “participation needs” requires one to take first things first. A more logical approach was to ask several questions first.

What are you looking for when entering a dojo? Why come in, in the first place?

What is lacking in your makeup that you need to study a martial art?

Having gained the skills, how do you intend to use them?

How badly do you want it and what are you willing to pay for it including Blood, Sweat, Tears and Money?

Are you aware that you must sacrifice (spend) quite a bit of time in this endeavor? It’s only in the movies that you gain skills quickly.

How long do you intend to stay in it?

The most important question was the first one and the second most important question: How much research did you put into looking at/for this particular martial art, this dojo, this teacher?

You get out of it what you put into it

while sitting here listening to my 1980′s and 90′s smooth jazz I reflected on how good I felt back then. I felt simply great then, and of course I feel simply great now…however there is a difference. Now I have to fight off the anguish coming from some communities around here and around the country. Make that around the world. People are praying for a solution to end the violence. Actually I call it madness.

Of course the outside influences sets a poor example.

How do adults solve their problems? How do countries solve their problems? Unnecessarily by force too much of the time. And the masses continue to really say nothing. They keep electing people who seem to actively select war as a solution for anything that doesn’t go their way. They lie and steal with impunity. They sell violence all over the mass media and video. Where else can the children learn about shooting and killing?

In the 80′s and 90′s people still primarily maintained control of their children. As for now my thoughts are simply this:

If today’s parents do not practice maintaining control of their children from 2 to 16 years old they cannot hope to gain control of them in their late teens, twenties or thirties and that is the age group which seems to run amok. If they do not, the madness will continue… does it seem to increase now and then? Or is that my imagination?

The biblical story, “you live by the sword, you die by the sword,” translates to this at the very least: you will get out of it what you put into it.
Keep in mind, nature is bountiful!

And it is always your choice what you grow.

Life Lessons

Life lessons and stuff like that.

A. Improve your position: Change how you think!

#1. Talking about a path is not the same as walking that path. Walk the talk!

#2. You must start to eat primarily to improve your health; enjoyment of your food is a byproduct.

#3. Pay constant attention to how you feel.

#4. Be aware of your surroundings.

B. Have clarity of thought: Most thoughts come to you from outside of your body. Spend some serious time on mental exercises to keep the mind sharp.

#1. All assaults take a toll on the body, however most people do not realize that they are being assaulted dozens of times during the day. We have become a nation of hypochondriacs preyed on by the pharmaceutical and television industries. We are bombarded by mis-information and inuendo all day long by the news media to the point where there is almost no independent critical thought.

#2. Many worry and pay much attention to what (may) happen to the exclusion of what IS happening NOW. Now don’t get me wrong, it is still possible to prepare for the future. Just don’t live there, live in the present. Live NOW!

#3. Relax. Enjoy your surroundings. Practice calmness. Slow your breathing.

#4. Seek a harmonious ear. But first develop a harmonious mind.

#5. Self-evaluate. When you practice Aikido technique focus not so much on
uke, focus on your own body as well. Exam whether or not you are working your body as efficiently as possible as you take uke’s balance.

All these suggestions will help you to improve your position in life as well as on the mat.

Life off the mat

When I’m “Off the mat,” commentary can (should) be used the same way as technique as far as I’m concerned. Here is a small example:

An interesting situation came about as I was in the locker room at the local YMCA. My senior student and I had just finished working out and we were holding an animated conversation on the problems of some students in the dojo. The discussion went like this: “While few students’ listening skills are lacking, some require the development of proper decorum in dealing with people’s feelings or the lack of natural abilities. Students of lower rank ocassionally demonstrate greater motor control and in the process intimidate some higher ranked students. (I’m talking about under black belt students who have trained longer than the ones with higher motor skills) This may happen in a dojo more often than most people think.” The discussion centered on how to reach negative thinking minds. Teaching attitudinal resolutions or how to get one person pass another’s ego problem was what we were talking about.

A gentleman at a locker close to us stated that it sounded as though we were discussing “corporate America.” In one sense we were. Life’s solutions always cross boundries. In other words, life cannot be segmented. The principles are universal and apply everywhere. While some situations need or call for specific answers, basically, how you operate in one venue is the way you operate in all avenues of your existence. We caught this man’s attention because universal principle states that “everything affects everything else” and we were just applying mental Aikido principles.

This is how I practice Aikido in everyday life; “off the mat.”

Driving under the influence of life

I had a conversation with a student recently who was experiencing some difficulties, and I told him this:

Driving is a lot like experiencing life.

If you’ve driven long enough, or you are old enough, you’ve experienced a long stretch of road where you could see for quite a long way. And if you were lucky, maybe even a mile or more. You can drive with speed then. However, most of our road experience consists of going over a hill or around a curve. In going around that curve you truly face the unknown. And such is life!

You never know what’s around that curve and if you hit it too fast and have to brake as you execute it, things can get a little uncomfortable. Especially if the curve becomes sharper or tighter than you expected. Braking is supposed to take place before entering a curve. Driving 101 it’s called. And again, such is life.

If you operate within the speed limit you usually come out alright, even if something comes up on you out of the blue.

If you’ve paid attention to the condition of your tires, you should have no problem there. If you refueled as required, again no problem. In life, you do the same, you pay attention to the details; bills, taxes and such; improve you position by making improvements on your house.

A big portion of important details revolves around relationships. Its what one does when planting crops. They must be cultivated! What does that have to do with driving you might ask?

Simply this: In order to become a good or even excellent driver requires learning to see as far down the road as possible in order to anticipate problems. If it’s raining you slow down; if snow is on the ground you slow even further. Or, you do not get behind the wheel at all.

You speed up only when you reach a straight-away and can see the road clearly.

Attention to:

A. Improve your position: Change how you think!

#1. Talking about a path is not the same as walking that path. Walk the talk!

#2. You must start to eat primarily to improve your health; enjoyment of your food is a byproduct.

#3. Pay constant attention to how you feel.

#4. Be aware of your surroundings.

B. Have clarity of thought: Most thoughts come to you from outside of your body.

#1. We have need of mental exercises to keep the mind sharp.

#2. All assaults take a toll on the body, however most people do not realize that they are being assaulted dozens of times during the day. We have become a nation of hypochondriacs preyed on by the pharmaceutical and television industries. We are bombarded by mis-information and inuendo all day long by the news media to the point where there is almost no independantly critical thought.

#3. Many worry and pay much attention to what (may) happen to the exclusion of what is happening NOW. Now don’t get me wrong, it is still possible to prepare for the future, just don’t live there.

#4. Relax. Enjoy your surroundings. Practice calmness. Slow your breathing.

#5. Seek a harmonious ear. But first develop a harmonious mouth and tongue.

$6. Self-evaluate. When you practice Aikido technique focus not so much on
uke, focus on your own body. Exam whether or not you are working your body as efficiently as possible as you take uke’s balance.

All these suggestions will help you to improve your position in life as well as on the mat.

My new book

I’m excited to announce/share some news with all of you. Over the last year
I have been working with one of my students, Kurt Brugel, in doing a second edition to my book; Stepping off the Mat”.

My original reason for writing “Stepping off the Mat” was what I experienced I in 1977. I did not leave Reynolds Metals Company. It left me, plus three hundred others; it folded and I was left with a lifeline that lasted just 2 years. When I finally arrived at BP Oil in 1982, I felt some of that same negativity I felt at Reynolds in its last few years. I began to write articles for the company newsletter in an attempt to nullify that attitude. This book is more or less a result of those writings. I also became aware that we teach people, including our supervisors if any, how to treat us.

In this second edition I added a few more chapters, one entitled Blogging, where I’ve looked back at some of my blogs and the responses from readers.

There are also 2 options for purchasing “Stepping off the Mat” now; one is a
printed version and the second is a digital download version for E-Readers.

To purchase a Printed copy, please visit this link>>>

http://www.lulu.com/product/ebook/stepping-off-the-mat-2nd-edition/16968023

To purchase a Digital download copy, please visit this link>>>

http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/stepping-off-the-mat-2nd-edition/16965400

Peace,

Armor or not!

Recently one of my old Quiet Storm black belt students arrived at the dojo requesting an opportunity, as he put it, to complete his training. I had not seen him for many, many years. He said he traveled through several other martial disciplines in that time frame. The request was for more than just the physical.

He wanted to know how to solve a perplexing problem. How to achieve that allusive quality known as peace of mind.

Our conversation drifted from our history together to going over his personal history to his ways of dealing with opposition and resistance to peaceful coexistance. In other words he constantly found himself sizing up possible adversaries whether they were openly aggressive or not. He was always evaluating how he would deal with the individuals around him if violence were to break out. He had been in several fights since he left The Quiet Storm many years ago.

The description of his lifestyle showed me that he is constantly on guard, always wondering about an attack, never relaxing for a moment. In my first few comments I described the proper usage of the 4 principles we utilize in Aikido and how they must practiced in everyday life while off the mat as well as during training. Then I took it a step further.

I mentioned how I stopped wearing a protective groin cup while sparring during the last four years of my active involvement teaching Tae Kwon Do. I did that because I didn’t wear one on the street and I needed to train the way I dressed on those streets. I had to learn to deal with protecting my entire organism. I pointed out that I was also training in Aikido during those last 4 or 5 years.

That was the period in which I transitioned to a new understanding of one of life’s most interesting phenomenons. Namely this: Life evolves and grows, it takes back and comes back or reflects back at us just what we expect of it.

The way I taught Quiet Storm practitioners, they developed a protective means of defense I call “armor” in order to cope with the physical world. That was primarily because we fought, and fought hard, not all the time, but most of the time. Our defense was a strong and aggressive offense which worked very well.

In those days it was not unusal for several males to walk into a karate school and challenge the instructor or students to a fight. It happened at many schools throughout the United states, but especially in California. It never happened in our school because whenever someone walked in with that certain swagger and stood in the doorway glaring around, I would simply call any two students to the middle of the floor, have them bow to me, bow to each other and free fight. I usually turned away and walked over to my senior student for a little quiet conversation while the fight was going on. After a few minutes, the transgressors, with a much different expression on their faces would look at each other, turn around and leave and never return. Well, every once in a great while one of them might come back to join, but that was very rare. After a few years of this the Chester grapevine was full of talk about those Quiet Storm people being crazy because they fought for real in that school. After a while they stopped coming in that way.

But getting back to my old student, I spoke to him of other things; Of growth, life changes and a new way of looking at life…

As you grow older you grow weaker and that armor grows heavier. My new way of thinking was to lighten the load. What changed? Take off the armor! Face life the way you were born.

For me, the first thing to go was the groin cup, then I dropped my armor. My realization was simply this: The most powerful weapon in the universe is the human mind and the most powerful force in the universe is love.

I’ve not had to defend myself in all that time. Neither mentally nor physically.

The question has been asked, do you live in a fundamentally friendly universe or a fundamentally hostile universe? How you answer this question dictates whether or not you can safely remove your armor.

If you can believe, you can achieve. For me no other defense is necessary nor desired. My expectations have changed.