Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Surprises and Speeches

Just before class I received an e-mail from the YMCA saying "Congratulations on keeping 2-3 regular students. We were going to cancel your class this month but decided not to since you've had regulars." Thanks for telling me you were thinking about suddenly dropping my class! It went on to say "We'll decide at the end of August based on your numbers whether to continue to give you that time slot." I replied with the reminder that I'll be gone two weeks in August. Will I still have a Tuesday night class when I return? Who knows?
As I did have a class last night though, here's what went down. We went over Tegatana (the walking kata) then number 1 through 4 of honasu (the wrist releases). My newest student decided to show off a few things after work the day after her first class with me. This inevitably led to questions like "when someone grabs you like this what do you do?" Then came the classic "well what about after someone has your wrist and has planted their feet and they're a lot stronger than you...what then?" After a movement exercise she seemed happier about the situation.
Class ended with a story of my first day of Aikdo which I'm SURE I've posted at least once before and won't bore everyone with again. I know, I can almost see the look of surprise in everyone's faces.."You're NOT telling a story?!" I think that just shows me growing as a teacher. I now am learning when NOT to bore my readers.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Homeward Bound

Well I'm teaching class tonight, but Saturday I'll be heading back to Mississippi with SJ for a week then to Texas for a week. What does this mean? It means We'll be at Pat's for next Tuesday's class. That's right Pat, I return bearing your Ki. What Aikido will I do in Texas? Probably none, but classes resume when I return to Washington. I'm excited to (hopefully) be doing a little Judo as well. As usual, if you're reading this Pat...can you e-mail me directions so I don't call Bryce like I always end up doing? :)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

New Student Craze!

Well Tuesday night, Marina did not show up, but my new student (this being her 3rd class) did. I'm terrible with names, so forgive me. I also had a woman who was looking for a late night self defense class show up, and a college student who took Kung Fu and was looking to supplement it also show up. 3 new students, no demonstrations, no idea what Aikido is (except for my 3rd class chick who had a vague idea). Everyone being new put everyone at ease though. I guess they were expecting an academy of black belts to start pouring in, but when that didn't happen all the tension was gone. We briefly went through tegatana (the basic walking kata) then into the first 4 wrist releases. I explained how Tori (the defender) is not trying to make Uke (the attacker) let go of his/her wrist, but is "releasing" the tension that builds from someone grabbing you. After just a few repetitions, they all seemed to get it and the older woman even said "I don't even use my arms, I'm moving you with my body" and I did all I could to hold back what would have been a ridiculous grin in favor of the stoic wizened old master "Mmmm" with nod look. The woman wants to return and take the class with her son, but I think Aikido in a relaxed easy environment isn't the workout the Kung Fu chick was looking for. It was nice to have another chance at a class with totally new people and THIS time be able to explain things in a clear, direct manner. Also, anyone who knows me will be happy to know, I did NOT give more than 1 speech this class, lasting less than 5 minutes.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

And now a Confession...

Ok, I've felt bad about this so I'll publicly apologize for it. Before SJ went to Midland, I had used her as a guinea pig now and then for some Aikido ideas or for working something out. She'd asked me what I was doing then I'd explain (at length) what it was...she doesn't ask anymore, lol. When she said she was going to an Aikikai affiliated place (I'm part of the Fugakukai), I warned her that Aikido is Aikido, but there may be some slight cosmetic/flavor differences. In my past experiences, the people who happened to be Aikikai were a bit elitist. When I first started Aikido I was anxious to learn everything I can and compare notes, etc. Each time I ran into someone who was less than friendly, the HAPPENED to be from the Aikikai. I'm definitely not saying everyone or even the majority are like that, those were just my initial experiences and unfortunately I warned SJ she might run into that. I say unfortunately because when she did have a slight bad experience instead of saying "I'm sorry" I said "I told you so". I thought myself better than doing something like that, but I did. All I did was perpetuate a stereotype of different styles or schools of the same martial art having some kind of animosity towards each other, and despite what I said, I don't. It has made me cautious, but I don't hold any lingering grudges or anything. I disrespected what I was taught, and hurt SJ's feelings in the process and I publicly apologize to her and to the Aikikai and anyone it I may have inadvertently offended with this post

Falling Behind

It's been brought to my attention by one of my (two) readers that I haven't posted anything in a while. The reason being, because I haven't gone over anything other than the first four wrist releases the past few classes, and that's what I'll be going over tonight as well. There is one thing I would like to mention however. Recently Sarah Jane has attended an Aikido class in Midland, TX. She was expecting to go to a beginner's class (because they advertised they had one), only to find out after she was there and after she paid, that there was no longer a beginner class offered. All classes were condensed into one adult's class, which can be off-putting. She said she seemed a little lost and no one offered up any direction unless she specifically asked for it, and during some move, the instructor who was teaching laughed at her. Now this was completely innocent as the instructor was I'm sure reminiscing about a time when he first started and struggled with something as we all do, but little seemingly harmless gestures can be disconcerting to new students. There were one or two times I can remember where Pat chuckled and I felt inept at whatever we were going over at the time, even though I know that was not his intention. We as instructors need to remember to be concious of how unnerving it can be for someone new to a class and remember how awkward it was for some of us when we first started.