I have been training at NUS(National University of Singapore) Aikido club for a while now, Harry sensei teaches there as well.
The experience is quite extraordinary, as I am handling juniors, boys and girls sometimes 20 years younger than me. With some many of them being beginners, I often become the few more senior Aikidokas in the class. And the class can be as huge as 30 – 40 students.
It is a good and refreshing change from Ceylon Sports Club, my usual Aikido haunts. Being the older and more senior Aikidoka there, admittedly it does stroke my ego a little that my opinion is being look up upon and my offer of guidance is being appreciated. That is why I keep going back.
Not so much that I like being given attention, but the fact that I like being given the attention, which means that there is an attachment to pleasure, which I want to be aware of and make sure it does not disrupt my equilibrium. Sure, I love to be Harry sensei’s uke in front of these kids and sometimes, given my long years of training with Harry sensei, together we are able to showcase some higher levels of Aikido to these beginners.
That was one of the reasons why I went, because I could sense that sometimes Harry sensei would like to show them some advanced techniques, and without a more advanced Uke, he is not able to and he is somewhat stuck in teaching very fundamental, curriculum based techniques. I hoped that my attendance can give him more confidence to really do a proper advanced technique from start to end. So that the beginners in NUS can see the whole schematics and not stuck in the day to day basic techniques.
While there is nothing wrong with that, doing the basics, I still love doing the basics in NUS, I hoped that they can see, in NUS Aikido a higher level of skill. I’m sure these youngsters visits Youtube(who don’t?) and asked why are they not doing the things they do in Youtube Aikido? Fact is what those guys can do, takes years of training. and yes, Harry sensei is able to do that.
Hopefully, they can see, right before their very eyes, Aikido in real, and Aikido in youtube is very, very different, Aikido in life, manifest love, respect and harmony, hopefully they can see that it takes years of practice under one sensei, constantly, to be able to blend in. To become a decent Uke, takes years of training. what I can do as Harry sensei’s uke, takes a lot of openness and joy. I love training under Harry sensei and after so many years, the net effect is that I could complement him quite well. Hopefully, the beginners in NUS can see that and aspire to understand Aikido as a how Harry sensei wants them to.
Back to the ego part, my ego. I wanted to go, so that I can learn to melt my ego, that ‘feel-good’ feeling, being the more advanced student. Afterall, looking at Harry sensei, and other great teachers, there is no teachers without the students. so somewhat similar to the chicken and egg conundrum. who comes first? Over time, I hope that I can blend into NUS Aikido (if I hadn’t already) and dissolve the ‘me’ into a greater ‘us’. That is another lesson for me as well, how to be a senior student without being a senior student. Making sure that my personality does not becomes overbearing, keeping my ego in check and not inflated.
From my honest feel on training, and how much I’m enjoying practicing with these newbies, I think I’m OK.