I have set as a goal to myself about a year ago, to always practice with a beginner's mindset. This is particularly important when you practice on bigger training seminars. This weekend I had the opportunity to train on the training seminar held in Budapest by Kuribayashi Takanori, 7 dan Hombu Shihan.
Here are three basic ideas that he emphasized:
- Never Train Automatically
- Don't Train Selfishly
Never Train Automatically
You should not execute the technique automatically, just because you learned that it should be done in a specific way. Challenge each and every motion. Get to understand and then let go of the logic of the movements. But for that to happen first you have to understand why and how you step in the irmi, why and how you move your body in order to take uke’s balance for example. On the uke side, don’t take ukemi just because you know what movement is coming next. Wait for the tori to make you take the ukemi. Whenever I attend such training seminars I always feel like I am a beginner. Sometimes I felt a bit guilty of not having enough routine and stupid for not understanding how a technique works exactly. But when Kuribayashi Sensei underlined training with a beginner's mindset as a positive trait, I gained faith in it again. One should get rid of old habits and adapt to what is being shown there and then. Only this will improve your technique.
Movement is important in aikido. Don’t be like a golf player, stiffly hitting the ball with the rocket without barely any muscle moving. Be like a baseball player, move around, adapt. Lower your posture. Especially for westerners who are not used to seiza, lowering their center is something they have to consciously build into their practice. As you lower, pay attention to move into the right point to execute the technique. Don’t get stuck at a certain point, always move along and develop.
Don’t Train Selfishly
Look around, pay attention to others. Train in a way that both of the training partners are learning something in the process.
He made several other points also, but these are the main ones that came into my mind. The seminar ended with the Dan examination, which I followed with great interest. We had to sit in seiza and sometimes in agura because this is one of the important skills of the aikidoka.
I hope this small article was helpful for both beginners and advanced people practicing aikido. Please also check my article from last year about last year's Kuribayashi Seminar here.