Here are some
Tips for Seminar Training
As we enter this Saturday with the 50th Anniversary of Aikido Center of Atlanta featuring the highest level of instruction led by Yamada Sensei, 8th Dan, Shihan, USAF Chief Instructor along with Peter Bernath, 7th Dan, Shihan, USAF Technical Committee and Penny Bernath, 6th Dan, Shihan, Senior Instructor at Florida Aikikai I thought it might be helpful to share some Tips for Seminar Training for those attending.
First, the mat is going to be completely packed. The injuries that happen typically aren’t from the actual practice but rather from the awareness or lack of during the practice. Uke’s landing on each other between partner practice or groups. It is so important to respect the fact that there is limited space, even on one of the largest mat areas in the USAF like at Aikido Center of Atlanta.
Small ukemi is crucial. Nage needs to really protect their partner by watching where they are throwing or placing uke. And uke needs to when at all possible, throw towards the outside of the mat (less chance of crashing into someone).
It’s totally normal to be excited and amped up but exercising control is what matters most. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. I am very careful on how I pick my training partners. My teacher likes to make a joke, ‘Never trust a White Belt’ LOL – that simply means, that Black belts typically have more control in the technique. Control equals safety. But I challenge you to seek out and train with as many Black Belts as you can. Especially if you’re in a smaller dojo where there might only be one or two Yudansha. You will be able to practice more and also feel the technique better from someone performing it better. That is a big part of Aikido learning. We say, you need to ‘Steal the technique’ from the instructor by practicing it. Not talking about it during the practice.
Here’s a protocol I follow when I find a new training partner that I don’t know. I introduce myself and ask them their name, what dojo they train in and how long they’ve been training. This helps the person become comfortable as I think a lot of beginners or aikidoka training at their seminar might be intimidated. It also gives me an idea of their experience.
Through the practice, I can feel if they are relaxed, flexible, soft, hard, muscle-ee, etc. This helps me adapt my training with that particular partner.
Lastly, I try and honor the teacher on the mat by just training and not trying to teach my partner. Meaning, I do not talk or explain or correct my training partner. I will try and use non-verbal communication by putting myself where they are trying to take me. This helps them get the gross movements down as well as practice. If I were to to correct them, stop them, I am cheating them of the Shihan’s instruction as well as the physical practice. Not to mention, that it is extremely poor etiquette for anyone to be teaching on the mat other than the Instructor. I follow this even when my training partner asks me for help. I just smile and say, ‘Let’s just train and I’m sure the teacher will correct us if we are having trouble’