This minor dojo incident is embedded in my memory. Minor it may have been but the outcomes will be of immense consequence for some.
During a class, a geek who had not been training for about five years, was practicing with a retired battlefield hardened warrior of immense field and dojo experience paralleled only by a few.
This true gentleman was being kind and, as he does, modulating so that the uncoordinated, lazy, nerd could recapture the years of lost training.
I could not help hear the conversation.
In another world I would have personally trained with the arrogant geek and made sure that if he did ever deign to come back, his ego would be left at the mortuary before ever setting foot in this dojo. The true Budo tradition requires it, if you want that student to return alive from service in the field.
Better the ego killed in dojo than the asset in the field. But some people choose to remain liabilities, even to themselves. It feels more comfortable.
In this instance, it did not matter so much. The nerd serves society quite well in his field of keyboards and screen. He would never be chosen as being fit for matters of real world consequence.
So I let it go as he being in good hands.
But it again caught my attention, based on his executive knowledge of nothing but a keypad, this ignorant fellow kept insisting on doing the technique wrong. The senior was being too kind and trying to explain verbally. A fatal error. Only object lessons sustain in Budo.
Any Japanese of my era would have educatively hurt the guy and kept hurting him for the duration of the class until he either got it or left.
But our gentleman warrior friend is often too kind.
So he tried to verbally correct the nerd. Who responded arrogantly, “I DON”T THINK SO!
I was truly surprised that warrior did not drop him, HARD!
It helped me modify the remainder of the class, but from the arrogant smirk I think nerd went home thinking that he knew better than all of us who had been training consistently for years, some who survive actively, daily in the field in real and imminent danger.
The nerd did not return and his opinions, from what I hear, are helping him cheat his way through life and dig a deeper hole for himself in so many other ways. Had he embraced the Way of lucid observational clarity through humility Aiki Budo provides, it may have been a different story.
Each to their own journey. Some choose the long hard way. Others choose to meet their foibles courageously in dojo, so they can become enabled and add value in the world by becoming just a little more lucid that yesterday.
The dojo, to the sincere at heart can help clear the mind of extraneous rubbish to see reality with a bit more clarity. It may be incremental but it’s sure!
If a geek speaks pay attention only if the information is about file paths and internet technologies. Even then don’t trust them. Most lie because they have this vainglorious fear that you will steal secrets readily available and hidden in plain sight. Most are socially stunted and articulation challenged. Too much time on computers and sleep deprivation can do this. It happened to me and Aiki Budo pulled me out of it.
In matters of Budo I listen to everyone. And then I test and research until I discover for myself so I can share real value and not bullshit.
Descriptions will not save your life in a fight. Nor do Descriptions constitute “teaching” of any kind. Descriptions do not accrue any skill other than that of describing.
What can you describe to an attacker that will stop an assault? Seldom do you get an opportunity to describe anything at all. If you were to describe a threat of, “what you are going to do to him if he attacks,” you had better have the backup because he may not believe you.
Descriptions are about as good as a gun used as a threat. A gun is not a negotiation tool. It is a shooting tool. If you are not going to use it keep it holstered. Standing around talking with a pistol in your hand while your arm is getting tired and adversely affecting your aim, is a fools game best left for stupid movies made by fools who’ve never experienced real life.
Your mouth does not belong in a violent situation other that for kiai!
Training is for TRAINING. Practice. Doing. Not talking. My best Aikido teacher always scolded talkers in the dojo. Rightly so.
Recitation does not constitute teaching per se, rather soliloquy. Where there is no commonality of experience it will mean nothing. Or worse, lead to confusion.
Unless the student can be made to realise that a finger is pointing to the moon, it will just be a finger sticking up in the air.
The true teacher guides the student in the ways of experience; into experience and through experience until the student can develop their own conclusions.
If you want to get good, then DO! Do lots. Repeat. Evaluate as you go but in silence.
And eternally refine and self correct. This is Budo and this is AIKIDO!
Who is your very worst and most dangerous enemy?
Your own untested opinions. And bad habits left uncorrected!