It is a very good feeling to be training amongst friends. Perhaps this is what makes our small dojo slightly different from others, Harry sensei doesn’t really ‘advertise‘ Shoshin Aikikai to attract new students, hence we do not have a regular intake of fresh blood. What we end up with a tightly knitted bunch of students who only wants to train under Harry sensei’s tutelage, perhaps also enjoy each other’s friendship on the mat, There is a genuine care we have for each other, that trust built over the years training together.
Harry sensei has provided a very strong leadership and presence as the head honcho, and there is nothing else to worry about. All we need to do is to turn up, he leads the class, scolds us when we gets it wrong, offer a small wry smile when we fumble, often comically. He is really like the stern father of the dojo, looking over his kids while they train.
He scolds us because he really cares about us. and my sensei is very particular about his technique, movement and application of Ki, some of which are often beyond linguistic expression and this frustrates him when we cannot grasp the true fidelity of his style. His teaching has always been uncompromising, straight, pure and true, he does not accepts our weak attempt to do the minimum, we must do exactly the way he does in the highest standards, and often chides us when we cannot do what he can. He runs a tight ship and expects nothing less than our best; we liked it the way it is.
So right now as we grow and evolve as a club, the dojo has become a very comfortable space to share and discuss Aikido techniques that Harry sensei has taught us. Under his watchful (often intimidating!) presence, I try to best honour his teachings, and techniques on the mat; at the same time bring in my own discussion, interpretation and corroborate what I personally know, feel and learned about Aikido.
Everything that I know about Aikido, I learned from Harry sensei, he has given so much over these decades that it will take my lifetime to share what I learned from him, and with this strong foundation I will have to find my own way to chart ahead bring new ideas onto the mat. This is a new level of learning I am beginning to embrace and appreciate.
While he didn’t openly say so, I feel very empowered to independently explore how to best carry on Harry sensei’s legacy in my own ways. While there are many flaws in my delivery of the class, my friends gave me that room to learn and grow, it is such a feeling of humility and honour at the same time that my fellow Aikidoka trust me, listen to my often one-sided explanation and let me correct them while I might be wrong myself. As we journey on, it will take all of us to slowly unravel what our sensei have left for us. This is very sacred and precious, so we must do what we can to make sure we keep this spirit going.