Besides the regular uncomfortable scolding I got from my Aikido teacher, Asoh Kinjo Shihan, 7th Dan so Hombu Dojo (now passed on), such as “are you a cat or a human being, cut your fingernails” or “that’s not how I taught you that wasa, where are you learning that?” I was also privileged to be the recipient of his many words of wisdom and the odd smile. On the scolding, I once said to my sempai “Sensei was very strict with me tonight” his reply, which I have never forgotten, was “you should be pleased he noticed you”.
Once or twice a week we went with Sensei for drinks, food, to listen and to learn. For me, being a foreigner with plenty of attitude and opinions, my first lesson was to learn to listen. The same sempai said “Sensei has been training and studying Aikido for 35 years, he is not particularly interested in what you think Aikido is, he is more interested in you listening and learning”. My sempai sounds harsh but, think about it, if you are not guided by your sempai you could very easily and blissfully unaware continue being an idiot. My sempai and I, at my request, made an agreement, if I was talking too much he would kick me under the table, the bruising over time reduced.
Asoh Sensei, when explaining how Aikido training should be approached and undertaken, described every Aikido training secession as being like “a piece of paper” which can without any effort be very easily torn-up and discarded. Yet, 50 pieces of paper together are very difficult to tear-up, 100 pieces of paper are even more difficult to tear-up, 1,000 pieces of paper are impossible to tear-apart. Sensei went on to describe the continuity of training as being like “the binding of a book”. Aikido training undertaken from time to time over a long period is like a poorly bound book and can come apart but, that Aikido training undertaken with regularity over a long period is like a well bound book, very solid, sturdy and something worth acquiring.
Sensei often talked about ‘Kokishin’ (ignore any bad spelling or poor recollection), this he described as meaning “to win over your own mind”. What he was saying is that “there are times when you feel that you just can’t face training tonight but, that those are the times when you really need to go and train because those are the times that you get the most out of a training secession”. Sometimes you build up ‘baggage’ throughout the day, you leave that ‘baggage’ at the Dojo door when entering, you train honestly and with some vigour and leave the Dojo feeling refreshed and elated and with any luck you leave the ‘baggage’ behind you.
Billy McAuley, Asoryu Aikido Club, Huddersfield, UK. 21/10/2016.