love does not measure; it just gives.
(c) Lining up
When lining up at the
beginning of the class the students should make a straight line according to the
person to their immediate right. Traditionally, but not always in Aikido, one's
seniors, or sempai, sit to the right, therefore, the line should run from
wherever the senior sits, or, to whomever is sat to the far right. If the line
is not straight, i.e. if the senior student, or part of the line, is sat
slightly forwards or backwards, then something is wrong. As a beginner at the
lower end of the line one can do nothing except match one's place to that of the
person to the immediate right. Do not become out of place by matching one's
position with that of a senior further up the line. If the problem is halfway
along the line, then that is where the correction needs to be, and then
subsequent shuffling down the line will see the line become straight. And if
it's children, starting a class without that straight line is the surest way to
When bowing from a
kneeling position, the body necessarily bends at the waist placing first the
left, then right palm on the tatami. It is not good form for one's
backside to rise as the head lowers. From a standing position the body should
bend not at the waist, but a little higher, around the solar plexus region, and
in martial arts, not too deeply. One bow should equal one breath, and the bow
should be not too quick nor too slow, just deliberate. One should always look up
slightly towards one's partner, and if the school dictates that one looks down
then one should try to be as aware as possible of where they are and what they
are doing. The emphasis is on awareness, not the looking. The act is both one of
courtesy and trust – one’s martial awareness is ready should that trust be
broken. One should bow at the beginning when meeting a new partner, and at the
end. There is no need to bow every time the tori / uke roles are
swapped. Excessive bowing or contests in humility are unnecessary.
When bowing to one's
partner, it is best for both to bow at the same time, in harmony. Otherwise, it
is up to the junior student to match the time of the senior. If the teacher
appears during training and helps with the technique it is customary to thank
them with a bow. Some teachers do not like it however if students repeatedly
prostrate themselves on the floor at this time, since, they feel as though they
have to respond likewise. The student should be aware that by performing a
kneeling bow, they are forcing their teacher to do the same, making them feel
awkward if they do not usually do so. Instead, take the lead of the teacher. If
the teacher goes down for a kneeling bow, then follow. A short standing bow
often suffices though, equal to, or a little deeper than that of the teacher.
Bow at exactly the same time, but aim to come up just a moment later.
freshmen bow while saying the phrase ‘onegaeshimas,’ meaning, ‘Please
train with me.’ As they near graduation that same phrase finds itself reduced to
something like the ‘oossu’ so often heard in Karate dojos.
Chatting while training
is bad form. Telling one's partner what to do while training is bad form. When
one's partner is obviously stuck, try leading them through the technique without
words - be a pliable uke. If one must speak, limit it to telling them
which posture to start in. Give them every chance to figure it out for
themselves. Otherwise, sit down, watch someone else, and then try again. Another
problem is that some teachers talk too much. If you do not like it, and many do
not, then all one can really do about it is learn the lesson and not talk too
much when one becomes a teacher.
The ego is named as the
obstacle to be overcome. An ideal philosophy suited to opulent Lords of past who
demanded subservience from their vassals, yet it often appears in devious form
in the very place that is supposed to squash it; the dojo often reflects
it, being full of those who cringe favour with flattery or exaggerated
attention. Not easy to remove, but easy to see. Excessive bowing or politeness
can be one form. Learn from the examples displayed before you everyday. It makes
quite interesting study.
(g) Leaving the tatami
With good preparation
one should never have to leave the tatami during training. Many consider
it as a kind of failure. If you eat too much and feel sick then you fail your
self. If you do not eat all day and feel queasy, then you fail your self. If you
forgot to go to the bathroom and have to leave the tatami, you lose
training time, you fail your self. If you forgot to take your watch or ring off,
you fail yourself. If you forgot to cut your nails, you fail your self. If you
need a drink of water midway, then you fail your self - even if it is allowed.
If the training is hard, some clubs do have a scheduled break midway to
replenish themselves with a little water. However, if you do need to leave the
tatami for any reason, just do so, even if the teacher appears annoyed.
If the teacher is angry, view it is their own personal problem, not yours. You
do not need to give a reason, but it is polite to inform that you are leaving
the tatami since the teacher needs to know where all the students are.
Training is a chance to practice overcoming adversity and a large part of the
battle is in preparation.
(h) Etiquette as Art
I have heard it said
that Judo is ninety percent etiquette. I failed to understand this for years
until I saw an old movie clip of Kano Jigoro, the founder of Judo, performing a
few techniques. It was Judo kata demonstrated to perfection, suggesting
that Judo is in the kata, not in the shiai. It was not a fight,
but a perfect dynamic demonstration of Judo principles. Perhaps Aikido too, is
ninety percent etiquette.