A beginner’s class for Aikido, looks like an art gallery.

And the new school term for NUS starts, which means more newbies, which means more friends to make, which means we are back to basics, the whole cycle starts again.

Aikido classes are typically quieter, compared to our fellow neighbours using MPSH 2, such as Muay Thai, Silat, Capoeira folks. There are more shouting, music, banging, punching, which easily drowned Harry sensei’s talking. Watching it, is like watching a TV program with the volume muted. What is more interesting is to watch the students looking intensely at Harry sensei talking, as if they can hear what he is saying.

They can’t. I can’t.

More importantly, Harry sensei as a meticulous teacher, will take pains to explain to the most minute details. And there was ukemi to be explained, how to tuck your chin in, leg’s in a position where you won’t trip yourself going down. There are a lot of instructions to make one movement right. But all those lessons are lost in the din of the large, noisy hall.

Unlike a Muay Thai class, everyone ‘knows’ how to punch, kick or at the very least yell like hell.

There is little or no yelling in an Aikido class, lessons are patiently taught, actions are learned repetitively, in a deliberate and quiet effort. There is no burst of energy, no ego-stroking war cry, no punching the punching bag to your heart’s content. A beginner’s class for Aikido, looks like an art gallery.

So it may appear staid to a beginner, doing ‘boring’ rolls, turning and twisting, which more often, looks and feel unnatural to a newbie. A lot of effort, a lot of work, but you seldom get that sense of achieving something .

I can sense a “Can we get to the sexy dramatic part?” “Are we there yet?” “Where’s the high throws? The dynamic movements? The drama? The cool stuffs?”

It will be long before anyone gets to that proficiency. At best, the first FEW years are spent, on the basics, knowing them, doing them well enough. the speed and skill comes with the understanding on how to apply Aikido techniques and ethics properly. That will take another few MORE years.

There are no short cuts. No easier, faster, life-hack way to learn Aikido. You cannot download an App,or E-learn to become proficient in Aikido. It is a long, hard, quiet, lonely, discouraging, difficult way, and sometimes, you don’t even get a sense that you ‘know’ Aikido.

Unfortunately, in Aikido, particularly, there is never a ‘there’. Where you often get a satisfaction of got ‘there’, then you realize that, the ‘there’ you got to, is not the ‘there’ you think you wanted. Aikido is like a car trip that never ends, if you are that kid in the car, keep asking “Are we there yet?” “Are we there yet?” “Are we there yet?” “Are we there yet?” every 5 minutes, you’ll be very disappointed, and discouraged in your Aikido journey, because you will never get ‘there’. You just have to keep going, and while you are at it, you’ll get better, you learn more skills, and you’ll find that ‘there’ is no longer important, it is the journey that makes the experience satisfying, not the ‘there’.

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