This is not any situation in particular, but rather something that I’ve only noticed recently: Partners that don’t play the game of Aikido when it is appropriate. Now this train of thought came after experiences with a particular individual, which I will now share.
An old fellow whom we are going to call Bob is a white belt that has been coming to my dojo for the past three or four months. Apparently, he and his ex-wife are doing something to perhaps rekindle their relationship. From what I have observed and talk to with my sensei, it seems that aikido is that thing.
Unfortunately, “Bob” exhibits the classic mistakes white belts usually make: extreme tensing of muscles and stiffness in the movements. What is more unfortunate is that Bob also has a very strong ego/I. I do not know this earlier but apparently he and his ex-wife had trained at the Aikikai headquarters in Tokyo in the 70s and were ranked shodans. Apparently they haven’t been training for the past 30 years.
Now I have no problem with people trying to relearn him a martial art (that was my own martial arts journey). What I did have a problem with was their attitudes. Whenever my sensei would release the class to practice a technique, it wouldn’t take much for either of them to begin to lecture their respective partners about “how the technique should be”. This was my experience with Bob doing the class with Kinoshita Sensei. I won’t get into details, but there was a point where I just want to the punch boxing the face for simply stating that he was a former shodan and that the technique “was this, and not that”.
Basically I had a couple of my buttons pushed being around this man. So for that particular exchange, I consciously, honestly, and purposefully became a very good uke. This meant that his “technique” didn’t catch my center, which meant that in my smart ass world – and Aikido world – he wasn’t doing the technique properly.
Which was contradictory to what he said earlier stating that his technique (or his interpretation) was correct.
What ended up happening was simply me expressing my smart ass attitude – and martial skill – to him that his technique wasn’t working. Whether or not he realized it (I’m sure he did after a while) I don’t know.
A week after the incident, the only conclusion that I arrived to was perhaps that I should have been more direct to him in a civil manner rather than a smartass manner. Also upon reflection I believe getting sensei’s attention would have been a wiser move. I was also looking forward to him attending one of the classes of my other Sensei – the one that frequently doesn’t mind using techniques on his students to prove a point.
Much to my surprise, he did not hit Bob at all. I caught glances at their exchange a few partners away and somehow NSS (the Sensei) was able to connect with Bob on a seemingly emotional level. I don’t know what NSS did, but whatever he did it worked and I’ve not had any problem with Bob as of late.
I had a similar incident to his ex-wife a few weeks before this where I had to say some very choice words to her in the middle of class. I reported this to WS (my main Sensei) with a sense of embarrassment since he knows I can be a bit of a smart ass. Surprisingly he told me about their situation with some advice and information on how to deal with them.
But all in all, I come to get along with most people. I seem to have the unrivaled skill of either making people comfortable with me or pressing people’s buttons. What I’ve discovered is that the people I get along with tend to fall in a graph similar to that of a bell curve; I get along with the majority while on the extremes lie that people who are either get along very well with, or the people want absolutely cannot work with me.
Three other examples come to mind whenever I think of that partners; one is now a fourth degree black belt whom I avoid training with whenever given the choice (the feeling is mutual). Another is a third-degree black belt whom I’m actually comfortable with now – BUT it took a long time, almost 3 years until we were comfortable training with each other. And last but not least there is a 3rd kyu where he and I almost had a physical altercation on one of the first trading days that we had met. That was 4 1/2 years ago; now I am happy to say that we have both found a very happy medium where we respect each other and train will love each other
…For the most part
I guess I’m a galvanizing student to say the least. Till next time.