It is an honor to be writing a blog for Chester County Kokikai Aikido, and for my first entry I will go over some details about what it takes to become a student of Aikido and what Aikido students need to acquire over time as they begin to practice the art of Aikido. If they are hungry for learning the art, new students of Aikido will quickly adopt the idiosyncrasies and rules that go along with the training. New students should strive to develop their ability to learn by doing or imitating the technique as they see it, and over time their particular skillset becomes more finely tuned and developed. Coming from a beginner’s perspective, Aikido, like other martial art disciplines take many years of dedication to become proficient. You need to develop the will and the character to stick with it. Some students may need to have certain goals and that can range from small things like getting out of the house, to exercising twice a week or greater achievements like becoming a black belt. In more than a few conversations with my instructors, though, I have heard that, “black belt is only the beginning of your training.”
CLEARING THE SPACE
How can a beginner student learn self-control and other skills necessary to start the journey that leads toward becoming a good steward of the dojo?
Sometimes class can become so interesting and exciting that we forget to take care of the little things that we need to get done like cleaning the floors of the dojo after class. We should always dedicate five minutes to practice good hygiene before and after class. Taking the time to keep our dojo in a clean, pristine condition sends a good message to both the people we train with as well as ourselves.
Entering the dojo is entering a special space. Anyone with a will or strong mind can learn a great deal from Aikido. I have learned this after training in the martial arts for most of my life, to put it simply, new students just need to develop patience and give it time. You must learn the rules of the dojo and develop a positive attitude and patience so that the dojo space can be an open, inviting and abundant space full of potential to learn something new every class. The dojo is a place where people want to learn freely and grow as individuals and become more connected to other people. If new students can really understand in their minds that their positive mental attitude means everything, then we can aim to harmonize with our partners while we practice, and learn from each other in a harmonious way.
One goal of our martial art is to strive to learn from each other in an exchange of physical techniques. What better way to flex your social muscle than by practicing together with a partner or a group of people.
GATHERING GOOD INTENTIONS
What I am beginning to understand about training in the martial arts is that when you are a new student, you need to learn early that your presence and how you show up to class matters to your training partners. Sometimes, just getting to class is an effort in itself, but truthfully, I always feel great after a good sweat at the dojo. A student should be dedicated to showing up to class and finding the best way to learn at least one new thing every time.
The most important aspect of training in the martial arts is the continuous and simultaneous development of our self-discipline and our self-awareness. If you have an open mind and you can leave all of your emotional baggage at the door when you enter the dojo, your mind will be receptive and aware and you will be able to learn. If I am able to take one or two insights out of the class than I am learning and growing as an individual.
So in conclusion, if the dojo continues to be a positive and welcoming space, then the students will want to come and practice in harmony. In retrospect, it’s the students presence and actions that help keep the dojo a positive and welcoming space.