What the Kids Taught Me Last Night – Sept 17, 2013, Kim Taylor, CI Sei Do Kai Guelph, Nanadan

For all the worry and fuss we budo types put into certification and legitimacy we’re doing a really poor job of convincing anyone that it’s all necessary.

The first Aikido class of the year was held last night and we had about 20 students attending. (Len thought that was low, I figured it was fantastic.) To teach we had three black belts, two of which started in 1980 and another who has at least 15 years in, so that’s a total of over 80 years experience. During the class a young fellow came in and asked to use a corner of the mats to work out a few things. Seems he was tapped at the last minute to teach the Jujutsu class that was coming in after us. That class had at least twice the registration of ours.

Lesson one, folks go for the most recognizable martial art, and they do not take into consideration who is teaching it. They sign up for the art, not the teacher and they most certainly aren’t asking things like “who did you study with?” They just want to learn the stuff that’s “the best”.

We had a few spectators during the class, one of which noted that you had to have a yellow belt to join the senior’s class (who wrote the blurb? Yellow belt?) and since he had a few years in another art did he qualify for the advanced class? I advised him that he should start in the beginner’s class and that we would move him up if he could handle the advanced class since the point was us not teaching people how to fall down.

Lesson 2, folks don’t want to be told they are doing beginner stuff, it’s the advanced stuff that’s the good stuff so let’s start there OK?

I drifted near to the spectators a bit later and overheard the girl saying that she just wanted an aerobic workout. I didn’t hear the response but I was tempted to go and tell her that she can find aerobics instructors anywhere but while she was in University here she had the chance to study with some people who could teach her some physical arts from a 30-year experience. There are some VERY experienced budo instructors at Guelph who not only know the art, but also know how to teach. Think about the average experience of your hip-hop yoga instructor in comparison to a Karate instructor who has been practicing longer than I’VE been alive!

Yes, the University offers certification and presumably classes in this fusion of funky dance music and ancient meditative system. Who hands out that certification? I actually threw up a little in my mouth when I noticed that sign. I mean, I had friends back in the ’70s who converted to sufism in order to study yoga, it wasn’t about stretchy pants that pushed your bum into a pleasing shape, and I bet it wasn’t about loud dance music.

Lesson 3, it’s not about learning something about your body, it’s about working up a sweat and losing some weight so we can live forever as a size 1. It’s exercise as medicine and we need the loud music and fad workouts to take our minds off what we’re doing. God forbid we should pay attention.

Yes, we’re doing a very poor job folks, we spend more time examining each other’s lineage than explaining to the general public that there’s other things than the latest fashion in calesthenics or the junior pro wrestling league.

If every last one of us wrote a short article for the local paper explaining our theory that paying attention to how your body works is better than going deaf doing situps in a glorified PT class, maybe we’d have ten or twelve more students in someone’s class… anyone’s class.

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