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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Aikido violance?

Hafez forwarded me this article from Aikidojournal "The reluctant uke". It's a good read and something that most aikidoka would face (especially those with smaller physique like yours truly).

Anyway, this entry is to add to that article and how violance (either we realise it or not) has sipped into our beloved art.

When I came back from my studies in France (this was back in 2002), I was quite eager to find an aikido dojo here in KL (Malaysia). I finally joined this one dojo (who will stay anonymous to protect the innocent). Unfortunenately for me, my gi was utterly destroyed during transport from France to Malaysia (don't ask how). So, during my first few classes at this new dojo I was wearing a t-shirt and track bottom.

My first class was "interesting" to say the least. First off, our sensei was not there. The class was actually a "revision" class conducted by the students. No problem there. I guess, since I'm not wearing a gi, the students thought that I was brand new to aikido (I was a 3rd kyu). I was lumped with some of the new wide eyed kids (despite my age - of course I consider that as a complement :) ) that just joined in. One of our "senior" (a 5th kyu I think) thought us ikkiyo on suwari-waza and just like any other class ask us to repeate what he did.

Since I was from the Kobayashi school when I was in France my ikkiyo looks really "wierd" to them. I'm ok with them trying to correct me but one incident shock me to the very core.

When I do my ikkiyo on suwari-waza, after I pin my uke to the ground, I quickly release him while guarding him with an aitemi. Of course the aitemi is quickly transformed into a te-katana to receive the uke's next shuimenuchi. My seniors on the other hand insist that I pin the uke to the ground until he begs for merci. (Which in my opinion somewhat breaks the flow, but I just kept quiet). What was shocking was when they told me this:

"You should not just release your uke. If you went to a seminar and work with all the shodans and what not, if you just release him like that, he will get up and he will punch you in the face"


Punch me in the face?

Of course my aitemi would land on his chin long before that, but here's the problem:

What kind of a sick dojo where a shodan punches a 7th kyu in the face?

An aitemi just to shock you a bit once in a while is ok but even then, I won't do it to a 7th kyu.

To cut the long story short, I quit the dojo and for the next 5 years or so hangs my bokken, so to speak. I was wondering if its just that dojo (which is a famous dojo by the way) or is everyone in Malaysia try to "adopt" aikido to the street. The aikido that I learn in France was different. It was full of harmony, philosophy and what not (it also helps that my teacher was a lady) and here it's different.

Luckily enough I found MyAikido. The teaching philosophy here is really close to what I have learnt previously but it took me 5 years to get over that little incident.

I wonder how many other aikidoka gave up because of this street-fight, bang-the-nearest-7th-kyu mentality.


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