Saturday, August 7, 2010

aikido place #3

The kids' teacher at the institute in Valparaiso somehow got authorization or decided to start doing adult classes, so I tried that on Tuesday. It turned out to be Iwama style again, from the same community as the bad place. Not too surprising, given aikido's stunted growth here.

It wasn't bad. It was me, and this beginner kid, and the instructor. My black belt didn't seem to count for much: as far as the formal etiquette, he acted like I came from a different art entirely. He was dogmatic just like the other guy, but he wasn't a condescending prick about it, which was a nice change. He almost acknowledged that what I was doing might have martial validity. I encouraged this: at one point, he had me do a technique on him to illustrate why I was Doing It Wrong[tm], and he tried a reversal on me--i.e. person A tries to throw person B, and person B does a reversal and throws person A. He did it poorly by my standards (dropping to his knees, among other problems), and simply by dropping my weight a bit, I was standing behind him, with him on his knees, and my arms all free to choke him or mangle his face or whatever.

It was a satisfying moment of communication, a way to cross the language barrier and say, "Just because I'm out of practice and from a style you look down on, please don't infer that it's martially ineffective."

It didn't seem to occur to him that I might be training cautiously with unfamiliar people, in a different style, or that I might be trying not to hurt the much smaller beginner I was training with. It wasn't miserable like the other place, so I guess I could train there, but I started thinking about what I'd be learning there, and if that's really what I want from any kind of training. They don't talk or appear to care about things that are very important in my aikido practice: peaceful conflict resolution, blending rather than clashing, movement, timing. There's just the fetishistic, static practice of the "real" aikido, the stuff O-Sensei really wanted aikido to be. Not that lightweight pansy bullshit he was teaching for the last 20 years of his life--that doesn't count.

Come to think of it, they sound just like the American right-wingnuts, insisting that the founders actually believed whatever the wingnuts believe, whether it's that armed rebellion against the government is awesome (Washington favored peaceful reconciliation) or that America should be governed as a "Christian nation" (despite Jefferson's clearest possible terms to the contrary).

When it comes right down to it, what would I be practicing? I'd be fighting all my well-earned aikido habits, most of which I'm quite happy with, to learn a style which (a) seems to have precious little patience, or respect for my prior training, and (b) I frankly think is kinda crappy along a few different axes.

That all makes yoga and tai chi look pretty good.

(There is yet another possibility over in ViƱa, headed by a non-Iwama 4th dan from Argentina, so I can set myself up for more disappointment by thinking that might work out.)

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