I’ve been thinking a long time about how to write this. Because I’m indebted to her in my Aikido practice. Sometimes when we are lucky, we get a partner to trained with consistently. Before Brenda came along, I trained regularly, and rigorously with Sunny. A large part of who I am today as a resilient Aikidoka was endowed by hard practice with Sunny. I bounced around quite a bit training with Sunny.
Now, I have Brenda. She is a total opposite from Sunny. She is delicate, like a flower. Her threshold of pain is really low. And her resistance at times is non-existence. So how can I train with her? What can I get out of that?
The irony is that I learned a great deal from Brenda. If I learned hard stuff from Sunny, Brenda taught me to be soft. I could easily severely injure her if I trained with her the same way I trained with Sunny. I have to be very sensitive and careful in order for me to not injure her.
It is so easy for us to hurt people. It is a lot harder for us not to hurt people. For that, Brenda is the perfect teacher. It used to frustrates me, because as a uke she is overly cooperative at times. she yields too much, too easily. As a nage, she can be surprising strong and rip you off your centre if you are not paying attention as an Uke. It is not actually a really ‘fair’ game, she can’t take what i can dish out, and yet I have to yield to her brute force at times.
But what else can one do when the partner is like that? Unyielding and stubbornly stubborn at times, vulnerable as well? Adapt. I adapted a lot to suit her style. my timing slowed down, so that she can catch properly. she cannot perform techniques with too strong a grip, so I have to soften my grip, and learn to feel instead. I still resist her, I resist her movement through feeling, not pure lock down. I have to give in to her vulnerability, in giving in, I understand my brutality, which exists to protect my own vulnerability. She is the vulnerability in me i have no courage to face.
She still comes to train, day in day out, much more frequently than I can. Despite of her high frequency, she is not a particularly skilled Aikidoka, its her persona, and highly introverted self which impedes her progress. But she makes it up with her dedication and discipline. she seldom, if ever fails to turn up for class. I want to preserve my training with her, I can’t ‘teach’ or ‘show’ her what she stubbornly refuse to learn, so I have to learn for her, and not crush her, for that would be the end between us, and the end of the Aikido spirit.