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Teaching – part 2

Teaching – part 2

Cup is full

Previously I spoke about a couple of success stories. It would come as no surprise when there are the lesser stories and even failures to discuss. When things go awry. How does one deal with a student who declares “I know Aikido, I just need bodies to do it.” The delivery did not convey confidence, just matter of fact in a narrow and limited experience. Job done and nothing to discuss. “I don’t need Sensei anymore”, was another rather charmless claim. “I need help, throw me a life line”, followed in a subsequent meeting, a couple of months later. Was it a cry for help or maybe realising that regression to the point of no return had taken place? When I explained my thoughts on what’s needed it would get rejected instantly. A statement was added claiming to know my real intentions. So this person knows Aikido and then doesn’t. I’m not needed and then I am in a, ‘desperate’ request for my help? This person also knows my mind better than I do. Wow, really? In the end it wasn’t difficult to figure out. The ball was dropped, the training, the Aikido and attitude essentially gone. At the same time bridges were burnt as though to ensure that there was no chance of salvaging at least some of the past achievements. 4 or 5 years ago a hard earned Shodan was obtained. It didn’t come easy as the student was neither physically talented or mentally wired for Aikido or martial arts in general. The writing was on the wall once the work rate dropped and worse a negative attitude took hold. No longer trying and no longer listening.

A promotion can also lead to hubris or arrogance coupled with negativity. The ‘Beginners mind’ gone and a different kind of “I know it, I know exactly what I am doing” takes place. Different because we all exhibit loss of humility differently. Shodan to be specific can be a funny old grade. No longer a novelty, the early excitement gone but not around long enough to feel it ‘etched in’, becoming a natural part of you. Depth of understanding varies but the work ahead remains indicating that Shodan is merely the beginning. Maybe the student “who knew it” was disillusioned. “Is this it?” Maybe witnessing the changes since lockdown where those who stuck with it and moved forward was too much to take. There was new blood with more ability and worked harder. Going past in a fraction of the time didn’t sit well. Then the excuses would come, the negativity, the wrong attitude. Surely thats life? Some will do better and some will not. The question surely should be “Do you still love training, do you want to continue?”

What about the dan grade from another dojo where we were recommended, “Stop wasting your time at the other place”, was the advice given. There was potential but only if the changes required were addressed. Some letting go of ideas and set habits needed breaking down. The door was open, effort was made but ultimately the choice to accept the new regime had to come from the student. I was in that situation many years ago when Chiba Sensei decided to demote me. He accepted my Shodan but not the Nidan. It was his way of saying, “Will you drop whatever you were doing before and open up to what I am offering?” For the record I did not demote the new student. Maybe I should have and likely triggering a disgruntled departure in doing so. A hot cold tenure with me didn’t help the cause. Not knowing what to do was as clear as day light, as well as a lack of honesty. Eventually leaving without a goodbye or any kind of communication. A “Thanks but I will not continue here any more”, would have sufficed. Again bridges burnt for no reason.

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