This year’s Spring course will be focused towards the key principles of Aikido in order to be more informative and engaging for kyu grade students.
When considering attending a National course for the first time there are many thoughts and nerves that can affect your decision to attend. Try to put any negative preconceived ideas to one side and forget about them. Look to the positive points of meeting & mixing with a group of like minded people and learning something new. Being a like minded group we all look to improve ourselves and help others along the way. Keeping an open mind and maintaining a willingness to learn is essential for progression.
The format for National courses are the same as when you attend your regular class. You step on the mat, line up, watch the instructor demonstrate, then you practice. It’s no different. If you make a mistake don’t worry about it, laugh it off and try not to repeat it.
Watch the instructor and their uke carefully. Try to be in a position where you can hear the instructor. Take in as much information as possible then try to replicate it. Do not be afraid of asking the instructor a question during training. The instructors want you to improve and will offer as much help as possible.
As with anything where one is trying to improve and develop themselves, whether it be physical or knowledge based, reward is equal to effort. After training on National courses your body will ache possibly for the next few days, it’s a given, and will not lessen with time nor grade. If a person were to go to the gym or dig their garden, they would ache the same. If anyone tells you they don’t ache after National courses simply say to them ‘reward is equal to effort’.
Keeping the above in mind, everyone is different so expect to train with people who aren’t able to ‘demonstrate’ the same effort as you. Aikido’s beauty is that it is open to and suitable for everyone. Therefore, one should not perceive a 70 year old person with a back problem to exhibit the same level of effort as a 20 year old physically fit person. This however does not mean the 70 year old is not putting in an equivalent amount of effort, it means the agility and speed will be proportionate.
A question probably jumps in your mind ‘should we only train with people of our own physical ability?’; the answer is no! You should train with as many different people as possible. Each person you train with will expand your experience. Learn to handle people who are high grade, low grade, strong, weak, flexible, stiff etc. Develop your physical sensitivity and skill level to be able to take people just past their comfort zone.
But beware; there are many 70 year old’s with back problems that can put you down on the floor quite sharply. Never underestimate your opponent!
If any of you are like me, you put stress on yourself by creating unrealistic expectations that you believe others have of you. Such an expectation could be of being thrown like, or being able to replicate what the uke’s do when used by the instructor for demonstrating technique. This is not the case. The instructors are intelligent and understand your ability. They will try to help you achieve that ability over time if you wish. Just try your best.
Taking the step to attend your first National course is always the most tricky. Once you’ve accomplished that and experienced our National courses first hand, you will realise they are not so bad and are in fact rewarding in many ways.
I hope this article has encouraged you to attend our Spring course. I look forward to seeing and training with as many kyu grades as possible.