It must be a Duck! But, it could be a Swan!!
The most valuable and practical Aikido instruction that new students (all students) of Aikido can participate in are those Aikido secessions that concentrated on kihon (the basics) such as: proper solid posture (kamae) that is always forward in attitude even when reversing; good movement that is connected and level to the mat; how to achieve balance, direction and re-direction; where the source of power in Aikido comes from i.e. the legs and the centre (hara) just below the naval; how to release this power from the hips through the arms, hands and out through the fingers; the importance and execution of proper breathing; suikomu, how to accept, absorb and redirect an attack; how to develop intention in the execution of Aikido wasa (technique) and how to stay safe through correct ukemi and proper breathing.
Aikido classes that concentrate on basics for me are the most interesting and rewarding. These are the classes that require the most concentration, that are the most practical and that should be remembered. To become a good Aikidoka concentrate on learning the basics first and you will become an Aikidoka and a good one at that. Remember, if it moves like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it must be a duck. And who knows, in time, with ambition, determination, good guidance and hard training it might even be a swan.
Aikido needs to become instinctive, that is it should exist without thought and that can only come through: shugyo (earnest study in the pursuit of knowledge) and by continuous, regular and honest training and ‘Kufuu’ (polishing the stone and making it your own), all this must be achieved with ‘Mushin’ (having an empty mind with no preconceived perceptions or opinions).
When a sempai or another shows you something, like a kamae for example, although it may well be different to what you have already been shown it is correct at that time. Later and in your own time you can ask your sensei and do some research, you will then find your own way, the way that best suits your own body and your own needs.
I was very closely and very well trained in Japan by Asoh sensei and also by my sempai Niall and Kisawa san. Asoh sensei said that Aikido needs to become instinctive, that it should exist without thought and that can only come through: ‘Shugyo’ (earnest study in the pursuit of knowledge) and by ‘Kufuu’ (to polish the stone or to make it your own), all this must be achieved in ‘Mushin’ (having an empty mind; no preconceived opinions (the verb is ‘mushin ni naru’ meaning to empty your mind):
Billy McAuley, Asoryu Aikido Club, Huddersfield, UK. 14/01/2017.