Training Partners in Aikido.
Training Partners in Aikido is so much about the exchange. Over the years, from brand new student, beginner, advanced beginner, middle kyu, Shodan and so on…my understanding of what to look for as well as how to choose has developed in a similar fashion to my technique, skill and my teaching ability. The first thing I have learned is when I am training with my partner, I am doing exactly that, training. I am not teaching. I am guiding or being guided. I am focusing on the connection with my partner, the movement, their ability, skill, and flexibility. Since those are all my focus, then my focus is not talking, speaking, verbalizing, stopping my partner, correcting my partner, or harming my partner. I know most of the partners I choose at seminars. I know many of these things prior to starting the technique. Because of this choice, the outcome for a positive exchange is high. How do you get to that point? Well, first, time is very important. Training with many people and building an internal rolodex of what people feel like when they train is key. How do they take ukemi and how do they throw? Are they very muscle-like? Do they over-grip? Do they talk a lot on the mat or in line during groups? I have been and always will be a ‘people watcher’. I am always watching the instructor during the technique, I am watching his/her uke. I am trying to duplicate both techniques. It is not just my own interpretation or what I feel like working on in my technique. Each lesson is unique and a fundamental difference is in any given Aikido class, the lesson of the class is set by the class instructor. I think that’s why Aikido is so important to me and why my love for this art is so strong. It’s also a very fair art for you are only as good as your last technique. Each time, the goal is to make that next one better. Same with ukemi. Each fall, each attack – better. More sincere, more relaxed, better connection – harmony. Finally, etiquette, no talking. Each class, less talking, more practice. I am constantly trying to work on that detail at seminars, too.
So the training partners I seek are sincere, safe, fit (can train hard), don’t talk, and don’t have an ego on the mat. Oftentimes, I don’t find that for sometimes it’s a new kyu student. In that situation, I will work very hard on being a good example for that new kyu student on what I’m looking for on the mat in terms of a training partner.
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