Sunday, October 17, 2010

communication failure: it's not just me

There's another aikido group that uses our practice space. They're Iwama, the same style as the dojo in Vina and the place in Valparaiso (now defunct again), only they're a lot nicer, and a couple of them, Blas and Frederik, even train with us pretty regularly. (This post has a rundown on aikido styles.)

I've chatted a few times with one of the guys, Rodrigo, and it's illuminating inasfar as he's very much of the "I want to do O-Sensei's REAL AIKIDO that WORKS ON THE STREET RAR" testosterone school. He also doesn't seem to listen to what I say, and carries no memory of our conversations from one weekend to the next. He always smiles slightly (it looks to me like a smirk) and says, "So how is Aiki-Zen?", which I guess is the name for what Jorge does, and I guess means something to Rodrigo, though not to me. Then he'll ask me if I've heard of "Real Aikido," which I think means these Serbian guys, and I say yes, I have, it seems like a reasonable, if violent, form of aikido, but I don't recognize it as anything wildly different from what I do. (Although apparently the guy styles himself the founder of his own art, which I view as pretty egotistical, but whatever.)

Then Rodrigo tells me about Iwama being the real aikido, not like Aikikai's soft flowing nonsense. Today I finally pushed back at him, because he was being an idiot.
"Right, but it's not what O-Sensei was doing for the last twenty years of his life."
"Yeah, but it's his real aikido."
"We have movies of O-Sensei doing aikido more like modern Aikikai."
"The movies weren't really what he did."
Seriously? Do you watch Fox News or something?
"Uh, my teacher visited O-Sensei's dojo and saw him. Another teacher in my association trained with O-Sensei for a few years. That's what he was doing."
"Huh. Well, maybe."
Then he continued on with talking about Real Aikido Techniques That Work On The Street, including demonstrating a technique on Frederik, an Iwama guy who trains with us sometimes. Finally, I stopped him.
"Look, I think you have this idea about what kind of aikido I practice. We've never trained together and we don't know each other well. But I don't think I practice in whatever way you think I train, so I really don't know what you're speaking to. Look."
And then I did the same technique on Frederik, handling his significant strength and force my way (which is not radically different from Rodrigo's way). Rodrigo said, "Yes! Exactly!", which made no sense to me, and I was happy enough for the conversation to be over.

Afterwards I had lunch with Blas, the Chilean Iwama guy who trains with us.

He said, "I have no idea what Rodrigo was talking about."

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