Saturday, October 19, 2019


Teaching each other is difficult.  We never truly know how others are perceiving and processing what we offer.  One of the many traps to recognize, whether student or teacher, is language.  More specifically how it can trap our thoughts.  We recently were treated to a wonderful seminar with an eight degree blackbelt, Rich Goodman Sensei.  He has had the good fortune to be a direct student of our founder, Maruyama Sensei.  Rick Sensei was recounting a story from much earlier in his Aikido career where Sensei was instructing him.  Sensei was telling him to pull his foot back during a particular point in a technique.  At the time, he was unable to process how to do this as his posture was forward and there was too much weight being born by his foot to move it.  He later understood the lesson that his foot being forward was a symptom of an instance of poor posture.  Sensei was not telling him that his foot was too far forward, he was telling him that his posture, or his center needed to be adjusted.

How often does this happen to us?  How literal do we take instruction?  When we hear instruction like "pull your foot back" are we trapped into imagining our foot can move on its own and therefore draw back?  We need to challenge ourselves to break free of the trap.  When we here foot or hand we can't focus all our thoughts on that.  We must instead think about what it means and what are all the ways we could move our bodies to effect such a change.  It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to rank those ways by how much adjusting our center is involved in each option.

As instructors, we need to choose our words carefully and be willing to change them if the point is not being understood.  I had a boss who was quite adamant at one point that myself and my colleague understood the point he was making despite both of us being quite clear that we didn't follow his reasoning.  He refused to consider that we could possibly not understand his point and flat out declared loudly that we did in fact understand his point.  You can imagine how much that helped the situation. 

When it comes to describing technique and movement we should frame our words from the vantage point of how we want center (One Point) to be affected.  As students, we should be comfortable in asking for clarification and try to think about how posture and center affect what we hear.

Green Leafed Tree

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