Your dad has a bunch of friends that are all dads, and I’m not sure how I got involved in these group of good people, but I think it was a a bunch of guys on a Facebook group called ‘Daddy Matters Group’ and during the more active days we talk a lot about all things in common, Dad matters. Parenting and sometimes husbandry stuffs.
While the group has quieten down a bit. we still occasionally meet up and have dinners and catch up.
Prata is the name of the game
Typically, this very much savored dish is what we dads can agree on, if all else fail, this comfort food is the go-to eats. Once we can get whoever is available and agreeable to meet, we chat over all things mundane and talked about some of the things we have done. Also relish some past memories for previous gatherings.
The 2023 Gathering
Over the years, conversation changes and we are talking about not just our kids’ schooling, behavior, good and bad. We talk about jobs and how some of us has moved on to other work and some are still in the same job after all these years.
Conversation has changed as our kids has grown up, Those with daughters are talking about their daughter’s attire. We talked about how tall our kids have grown, some have gotten into relationships. Other with sons, waiting or have gone into National Service.
No more Bloggers!
What a change, Blogging is no longer vogue! Sob! That’s how things have evolved, quickly. These days we are no longer reading blogs, or putting up blogs, the new term is ‘Influencer’, no more Bloggers, Instagrammers, and all that terminologies. It’s official, Blogging is dead!
Its a good alternative channel for me to catch up with my peers in the same ‘industry’-Daddying, and catch up with professional fathers on the latest developments in their lives.
I’m sure when the time comes for you both to become dad of your own, you will hopefully find like minded folks to have as friends for life.
Last evening was another wonderful class with just the 4 of us. Small classes like this allows us to explore our techniques in depth and weed out those ‘bad’ habits that persists unbeknownst to us. Sometimes we think we are doing alright because in a larger class, the hustle and bustle can bring out some bad posture or positioning that we are not aware of, or we will not be able to correct.
We started with some static Tenkan (Turning) techniques and this is one of the way we can better understand why we move the way we move.
When our partner grabs us, both hands, tight, firmly, it transfers a lot of tension into our wrist, and how we interpret that strength can have an impact on our response. While we are not in a specific fight/flight duality, such tensions does trigger us as we instinctively combat the grasp, ironically increasing our partner’s perception that we are trying to escape the grasp and in response, tighten the grip.
While the technique might look deceivingly simple, it get harder when we clock more hours in Aikido training, partly because we start to become more complacent about the way we were taught to stand and move as beginners, our technique become sloppy when we become comfortable and gets lulled into a sense of comfort, thinking that what works in the past, will work now and will work on anyone and everyone.
Just the 4 of us
This is the beauty training with a bunch of friends in Aikido for a long time, we are all very comfortable with each other and with that level of trust, we can put some discomfort into the technique and allow the nage to relearn how to move again.
I implored Ming Jie, Melvin and ZZ to grip hard when it is their turn to be uke. There is no worry that we are out to make things difficult for the nage. WE ARE. The difference is we are not doing this out of malice, mischief or trying to prove to the other guy we are better, we are putting in the difficulty precisely because we want the other the to be better.
We failed quite a bit, and explored why.
With our years of practice, we need to be able to critique our own posture, and understand our own inefficiencies and make adjustments constantly to enhance our interactions with our partner. With these 3 guys, I don’t have to be a ‘sensei’, instead I’m just a prompter, pointing out certain things that they can do better, or adjust so that they can better cope with the pressure.
I told the guys that their self dialogue must be one that goes like: ‘Yeah, I think my tenkan’s position isn’t right, I’ll need to shift my leg forward slightly.’ instead of saying ‘(insert name here) says that I should be doing this, and that.’ I implored to them that it is no longer about what Harry sensei says, or what Randy says, they will have to internalize the feedback, and own that improvement. What we say is what we observed, externally and beyond that, there is nothing else we can do to help each other improve. So it is not about who said what, it is about how we can take that feedback in and make that change. That is the mark of a proactive person.
Change is not easy
That is why we change! If it is easy as heck, then change would have lost its allure, improvements would have stopped and atrophy will run the world. While it is challenging to change, having people who trust and supports your efforts to change helps make is a little more worthwhile to think about changing.
This is the place on the mat for such metamorphosis, small class allows us to move, then sit back and think how we did. Then change a little to see if that makes a difference. Our partner can help give constructive feedback on how he/she feels being the uke. We can pace the class and slowly incorporate the changes into our body movements.
Space for Introspection
Such is the difficulty of Aikido, as no 2 person grasp the same way nor our response to the same person remains consistent, Aikido challenges the fallacy of sameness, as we need to know that we are not the same person moments ago, we are constantly adjusting our perceptions, values and mood. We ebb and flow dependent on the day, time, place, and interaction, at the same time trying to keep to a semblance of identity of who we are.
Once we have a decently deep level of self thought, we can institute the change. So often we remarked “Aiyah, that guy will never change one lah!” When a person is not able to deeply reflect on their thoughts and actions, it is difficult to see external changes. Again such changes must make sense and means something to us, to be better.
Equal in the eyes of the beholder
I shared that Harry sensei is able to handle most ukes. That is his level of skill, I’ve yet to see an uke he cannot manage. The secret is his unbending core and that keeps him very centered. Anyone who holds his hands is immediately drawn into his center and you loses yours.
The other ‘magic’ he has is he treats all his uke the same, he is fair to all and gives no quarter as to who is a better uke. So with that fair eye he is able to dispense everyone the same way.
The same way doesn’t mean the same. He does adjust his stance and extension to manage every uke differently. Such micro-adjustments is barely perceptible to our observations, but he does it in a way that is unbiased, and unaffected by who the uke is.
Recently over dinner, the 大哥 decided to mention something about the mother being overly exaggerated when it comes to giving instructions. Ian even when to say something like being treated as if ‘We are an idiot’. when his mum gives very simplistic instructions on how things are to be done.
I was kind of taken aback by the rather critical remarks. I can’t remember what was the topic we were having that leads to Ian making this comment.
Later on in the dinner, Ian remarked that his mother is agitated over something and accusing her of over-reacting. Which I can tell from the tone, is putting your mum on defense. There were some palpable escalation of tension.
That is when I stepped in and put a stop to this.
“How your mother conduct or behave is not open for discussion in this family.’
One thing for sure your mum is the best person I know. She holds no malice, no ill-will, doesn’t plot untoward schemes against anyone. She will protect the family with her life. She loved my boys and will do anything for them. She always puts her family above and before herself. She is the most giving and selfless person and she will go through hell and high water for the both of you.
So I do not allow any critical disrespectful comments whatsoever about her, at least not from her children.
Sure, she might be overly-zealous about her children. She might get frustrated when her kids cannot get simple things done and have to resort to exaggerated actions in an attempt to teach you boys the same thing for the umpteenth times. She might over-pack her lunch box for you boys, that because she do not want to see you starve, not under her watch.
The Good Son
Like I told you, Ian, your dad hadn’t been a very good son. That’s on me, but as much as I can help it, I will not allow my sons to treat their mother anything less than the best. There is still time for me to show you the right way to be a good son, so when she fails as a person, the last I want you both to do is to criticize her, you both have to hold her up, protect her, keep her safe, and never let her down. Whoever she becomes, she is still the best mother you boys will only have.
This, you both need to do so that you can be a good person, a good man, and an individual of value and virtue. Men needs to treat their women right, and the first place to start is at home, Love your Mother unconditionally and make sure she can depend on her men to stand with her, for better or for worse.
Be the Better Man
Throughout this marriage, as your mother’s husband, I have my shortcomings, tempers flared, quarrels ensued but we always find a way to make it work, sometimes find an uneasy truce, and slowly limp along. Wounds from hurt, healed to become ugly scars, we fought and become war weary of each other, that’s how marriage works, we never give up fighting, and after every fight, we go back to each other, forsaking everyone else. Sometimes it’s a bit too late for me to take back the hurtful things I say to her, all because of my insecurities and fears. Marriage is different as we both choose each other to spend our lives together, and sometimes that choice is put to test through our differences.
Being our children, is also different as you both have no choice over who to be their parents, so I need to make sure that you both make the best choice, so that the outcome can be most favorable for you and for this family. Start to treat your mum right and you will learn to treat your own wife right when you grow older to start your own family. So learn to put the woman in the household first so that our women an trust us to take care of them, and they will in turn take care of us and more.
I did a list back in 2019 and since then we have seen a quite a few changes in the Aikido scene in Singapore. I will include ‘heat map’ of the locations of these ‘dojos’ for visual effect.
How are the Dojo’s looking like?
As space is a very expensive commodity in Singapore, it is very costly any aspiring Aikido instructor to hold on to a permanent dojo in the most traditional sense. Most ‘dojos’ in Singapore are sheltered, sometimes air-conditioned multi-purpose halls in Community Clubs, where we practice on foam mats, laid out before class and packed up to be kept after class. So in the strictest sense, most locations isn’t a permanent ‘dojo‘ but just a place to train Aikido.
Having to open a class in the community clubs/ centres helps Aikido instructors lower the costs as there are no heavy rental to headache over, nor the need for constant maintenance of an actual dojo.
There are about 23 known Aikido schools in Singapore, running a total of more than 110 dojos all across Singapore. It is a very vibrant community and there is no shortage of classes for anyone aspiring to take up Aikido.
The illustrated ‘heatmap’ gives the approximate location of these dojos in Singapore. As long as there is a sizable population density chances are you will find an Aikido class nearby. Do note that some of these dojos are not open to public and have members only access, such as Country Clubs and Universities.
Finding your dojo
Do take the time to physically check out the schools, take an introductory class, for about 3 months, and find an instructor that works well with your personality and temperament. Learning a martial art like Aikido can be vary daunting and challenging so getting to know and building the trust in your instructor will help in your learning journey.
Making a careful choice of the school, style and sensei will pay dividends to a very long and rewarding Aikido journey.
Caveat Emptor: These data is collected by the author using publicly available internet resources and every effort is taken to ensure accuracy. If there is any discrepancies, errors and omissions, please provide a feedback, and attempts will be taken to present a more reliable output.
Joel’s Ah gong did one heck of a job with his garden. He took an empty piece of land and turned it into a little oasis that everyone can enjoy.
More importantly, he has build something to be left as a legacy. All of us will leave something behind when we die, the question is the what we leave behind. As your parents the biggest legacy I have and will continue when I die is the both of you, this is the most direct form of legacy. You will continue my genes, my stories and carry on my history. you will tell you children(if you plan to have children) about my stories, and your children(if your children plan to have children) will tell their children about my stories and yours. Legacies usually goes from word of mouth to word of mouth.
Sometimes having a legacy means that you leave your work undone, for people to continue. Work can be large or small. Mr Lee Kuan Yew left us the entire country as his legacy for us to continue, that is a monumental task!. For Joel’s Grandpa, his garden will be his legacy.
It is a beautiful piece of work, and it is all him, he got the land from his Resident’s Committee, did the planting, and segregation, there is a little pond, some chilies plants, there is a small corner for cactus and it is all well spaced out. It is a simple piece of joy to walk in it and it will be a spot for everyone to enjoy! He is still working on it and every little plant and flower has been touched by his green hands.
Of course, he couldn’t have done it alone. But if he hadn’t started something, then other people can’t follow. His garden draws fellow gardeners there, to help him, and also to work and make the garden nicer.
And gardening is a never-ending job, if you do it well, it can go on and on. There are constant challenges, in making sure the plants are watered, pests, kept at bay. When the plants bear fruits, you can distribute it to the community. when plants whiter and die, you grow new ones. and when Joel’s Grandpa dies, his garden will continue and someone has to take over the task. To keep up the good work. and when people look at how magnificent the garden is, they will remember the person who first bring about its fruition.
We will also remember him, because he has given us place that we can enjoy.
“And if this misunderstanding sinks in, it will become a bitter reality for you two when you become adults.”
Wayne got a toy train set for his 6th birthday, compliments of your uncle Philbert. You two have been bugging me to open it ever since you got it and I only relented until the weekend.
It is a nice little train set, with the train engine, and a little coal carriage (which hides the 4 ‘AA’ batteries), 2 passenger compartments and a cargo carriage. The track itself, is where the story begins.
It was an ease to fix, but a pain to get the train to run smoothly on it. it was either very precise or very imprecise, we ran the train a couple of times and it gets derailed again and again. My experience tells me that we have to run it a couple of times for it to get run in.
Until then the little train continue to get derailed, and I stood back to see how the 2 of you troubleshoot the situation. Looking back, the efforts you both put in can be best described as ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions.’
弟弟 was doing what he thought would be helpful, by turning the train on and off, but it only frustrates the 哥哥 while the 哥哥 tries to align the wheels on the track. It didn’t take long for the both of you to get caught in the cycle of perceived mischief.
The 哥哥 will be thinking that 弟弟 is into mischief when he tried to turn on the little train, when all the 弟弟 was trying to do was to solve the problem. And 弟弟 didn’t know that 哥哥 was beginning to accuse him of disrupting the problem solving process (something which 弟弟 has done in the past, as he does have a strong history of mischief) So I witness a slippery slope down, where both of you are trying to solve the problem in your own way, not knowing that in doing so, you both are sabotaging each other’s effort.
It was interesting to see this and I became conscious that if no one intervene, it will eventually be a little nasty seed planted between the both of you, as you both grows up, both of you will see each other’s effort to help as a sabotage. And if this misunderstanding sinks in, it will become a bitter reality for you two when you become adults.
I stepped in and explained what has happened, more importantly, turn the whole perception around. and make the both of you see that the whole problem solving approach together, and as a fun thing. Working together to try and align the train on the tracks, and monitor it while it moves, and when it gets derailed, one alerts the other and we all stop the little train so that we can fix it. 弟弟 becomes the assistant and helped 哥哥 who is the ‘engineer’.
Truth to be told, once the little train runs in, the derailment becomes a lot less and both of you boys began to enjoy playing with the little train set. More importantly, I’ve change the way you boys see that the train derailment, as part of the fun, and not just a problem.
For the more law abiding members within the population, how many of us entertained thoughts of berating people who do not wear masks during the heights of the COVID19 pandemic? Feeling like punching them in the face for not putting on the masks?
How often have we scoffed at people getting their comeuppance? Or we gleam at the opportunity being the one who delivers the punishment?
Tit for Tat, anyone?
Aikido is not Attritional
When we are on the mat, we are not keen to display our superiority and overpowers our opponent. We are not keen to show off that we are better than our partners, nor are we keen to put up a good show.
It doesn’t add up to anything good.
Being inconsistent is an attribute of being a human, we cannot keep up a façade of excellence 24/7/365. We will falter, we will mess up. And when we do, we will need help and support from our fellow humans, friends and even strangers. By pretending that we are better, puts us at a stand-off distance, and alienates people who are in a position to help us.
A false sense of superiority also triggers a competitive instinct in our partners, as they will feel put down by the feeling of being less superior to us. When this comparison starts, the whole dynamics will become a duality, good to bad, superior to inferior, win/lose and swinging back and forth creates an inefficient imbalance which will destroys the harmony we need to achieve our goals.
No chance for destruction
Harry sensei’s style of Aikido lacks a large repertoire of Atemi, which is a kind so ‘soft’ strikes that helps us break our opponent’s balance or distracts them from the actual waza we are doing.
While he has never clearly explained why he doesn’t do much atemi, the understanding is that atemi can invite atemi. When we strike, our opponent can strike back, which will change the whole dynamics of how we want to practice Aikido, by ending things amicably. Striking can potentially escalates the tension and build more conflict, even when we are successful in our strikes, the hurt from being hit is very acute and it can invite retaliation.
How often has we argued with our uke in the principles of MAD? Mutually Assure Destruction’; “I can hit you from that spot! I’d say. And in turn my uke showed me that I can be hit, in exchange of hitting. And because Aikido is such a close quarter art, we will risk being hit, while we engage in hitting people.
Turning dissipates aggression
Aikido is circular. cyclic and cylindrical, even when we do not see it. When violence or aggression occurs, it is often directed, at someone, or something, which means it has a linear energy, it needs to get out, from point A to point B.
“I am hurt (Point A), so I will hurt the perpetrator back (Point B)”
“You punch me (Point A), I will hit you back (Point B)
It draws us back again to a duality where there is one winner one loser.
We want to circle that negative energy so that it can dissipates, and we can absorb it to neutralise the aggression. We do not want to use our own body to absorb that aggression through hard training and conditioning, again, there is only so much punishment the body can take before capitulating, so it make more sense to direct any force outwards, than to use our body to contain the blows.
One Good Turn
Given our volatile world, we need more purveyors of peace, by not fighting, not stopping the aggression with more aggression, instead, using our skills to ‘bleed’ out the negative pressures, we give the situation a chance to deconflict and deescalate the tension.
Aikido’s circular motion means that our opponent’s oncoming energy has a course to run, in a way that is harmonious to both of us. We take away their ability to hurt us, and also hurt themselves. In a move like irimi-nage our uke’s forward motion is turned away from its original path and circled to a location where we will be in a better position to end his/ her energy naturally.
Coax not overpower
This is a higher order skill that is very difficult to achieve, because we have to completely forget about our own stances, and self, and fully immerse into our opponent’s being and intention. Only when we are able to dissipate our image in front of our opponent, then we can have a chance to turn his aggression around, and coax them into a position safe for everyone.
Surely we can overpower our uke, once we are in a superior position, and once our opponent feels that they are being over powered and loses the fight, they will find a way to over power us and win back the fight. What’s the whole point in that?
Project Peaceful Intentions
We often invite the trouble we hope to avoid, and until we can find out why, troubles will continue to follow us. Coming to the mat to practice helps us better understand our own aggression. and puts us in a more pleasant, and joyful state. How often have we come across a person whom we don’t like simply by the way he/she stands? Somehow that manner of postulation simply invites a sense of arrogance or bigotry.
So we need to avoid being picked up as a target for violence or aggression, not by being belligerent, nor by being pacifist. We need to remain neutral in our stance and stay open when we are engaged in a stressful situation, always seek out a better way of making sure all parties involved walks away without a sense of retaliation, only then can we attain the peace we all strive to have in our lives.
We reached the hotel like about 9.40pm. tired after a day’s worth of running, flight delays and; our holiday hadn’t officially begun!
So at the front lobby of Kuta Station Hotel, we began the process of checking in, with all the documentation.
Thanks to the internet, we’ve already check out the hotel grounds, the reviews and the pictures, we liked what we saw on the net, and it was exactly that when we reached the place. The service was great, and the bellboy was a great help and extended his services to great lengths. They gave us room 3101, everything was fine except the smell.
It was an intense sewage smell that seeps out from the toilet, And there is no way we can escape that, we called the room service who came and sprayed some kind of deodorizer which neutralized the bad smell, it was a tactical move, and not long after the smell returned, the next day.
Too tired from the day’s adventure, we decide to called their room service and had our dinner outside our room, the food was great, I ordered a pizza and it tasted good! Everything was done clean, and the food was wrapped in cling film, we had no issues with the food.
We woke up rather late and had our first breakfast at the hotel, but before all that we called the room service due to the smell and they came, again with the spray. Your mum took ownership of the can and we used it liberally. Really, really liberally.
We took the streets after a quick breakfast, for our destination fascination, Water Bom! We choose Kuta Station Hotel simply because it was just a scan 5 minutes stroll from Water Bom. Security was tight in Water Bom, as there was a compulsory bag check, which was done by a very freindly security guard.
Needless to say, you boys are very, very excited about it. We got through quickly with the admissions and headed off to fun! Out of instinct, we headed to the kiddy area, which is not a bad idea. We wanted a gazebo, and we were worried that ALL of it will be taken.
The very friendly staff at the locker area helped us with our woes, luckily, there are still gazebos available (actually a lot of them are not taken up) and we took her suggestion ‘number 26’ which is in my opinion, THE BEST GAZEBO IN WATER BOM. Firstly, it overlooked the entire Funtastic kiddy pool play area, and just next to us, a life guard, so it is like having a security guard for our gazebo. And it is the only lone gazebo there, the rest are clustered near the toilet and other places. The breeze is good for number 26 and all other amenities, food, top up counter, locker, toilet are all nearby. Location, Location, Location…
We played with everything our family can play, that means some slides that Wayne’s too short to go for, we have to omit, which is the boomerang, that ride needs at least 1.2m of height for entry.
Wayne, you’re most game for Twin Racer, and made no hesitation. For Ian, you were rather apprehensive, but after seeing you little didi went for the ride, you decided to join the fun. Your mum called it the ‘Aladdin’s ride’ as you have to use a blue foam mat for the ride, which looks something like Aladdin’s magic carpet.
I tried the ‘toilet bowl flush’ ride and that is one of the most exhilarating ride ever!!! You step into a capsule and the bottom is a transparent piece of plastic, which acts like a trap door, it opens and you drop, near vertical down the tube, and slide, screaming down all the way. Wonderful adrenaline rush!
The only family ride we took together was the Python where all 4 of us can squeeze into the dinghy for an exciting, white water rafting style sliding down a dark tunnel, we all screamed all the way down!
‘toilet bowl flush’ ride … is one of the most exhilarating ride ever!!!
We also tried the pipeline, another ride that the little Wayne can take without hesitation, I have a feeling that you are going to grow up to become an adrenaline junkie.
And I have a feeling we will be returning to Water Bom, because there are some rides that is too high for Wayne, and we will come back and finish our unfinished ride.
The money we paid are well worth it, the food is good, your mum ordered an apple crumble and chocolate brownie, and cheese fries for you boys, it was delivered to the gazebo and they will return to collect the empty plates.
Overall, we loved Water Bom, it is fun safe and very thrilling. Very convenient, we walk out we can find food, and convenience. It is so vibrant and they really made us feel very welcomed.
We ended the day around 6pm, the time the water park closes for the day. After trudging back to the hotel, we bath and cleaned up a bit, before heading out again to get dinner at Coco Bistro, at Discovery Mall. Consistent to the spirit of Balinese hospitality, we had a hearty meal whilst enjoying the good service. By then, Wayne is beyond tired and we head back to the hotel to grab our night’s rest.
This is one virtue that will never go out of style, it will always be trending and you can never be wrong with it.
Being on time is something we all need to strive, and I am certainly not the prime example, your mum would forever say that I was late for our first date! What an impression I made huh.
On Time, Every Time
This is your report book, Ian, if there’s anything you can be proud of, that will be the ‘0’ you have for the records. You 弟弟 is also a stickler for punctuality, constantly hustling me to get out of the house on time so that he will be on time. In fact he would like to be very early.
Remember this habit, and always practice is.
Long Tail Effect of Being Late
We engaged a Math tutor and she is brilliant in her work, but we can never trust her to be on time. She is so consistent in being late for your lessons, we wouldn’t bet that she will be punctual. There is always some kind of excuse, and it got so bad one time; she was more than 45mins late! So we have to push bac our dinner appointment because she was so darn late. While you can be an ace performer, brilliant in your work, and perhaps an expert in your field. but if you cannot turn up on time, it will affect the way people depend on you to get things done. You may not see the effect. but having the entire village wait for you to turn up also shows your lack of respect for other people’s time. It also distracts people from your real talent and cause people to doubt your abilities.
Tip of the ice berg
Never mind why you are late, honestly people don’t care about the reason why you are late. You. Are. Late. If you consistent bend time, the effects will show, once people casts an image of your tardiness in time, that reputation will be difficult to shake off, and it will precedes everything else you do. When you can’t plan your personal time well, people will come to a conclusion you are not good at planning anything at all.
Of course that is a sweeping statement, and you are your best agent to make sure people don’t come to that wrong conclusion. So that is the first battle to fight and win, be on time.
Being Early is Being On Time, and Being on Time is Being Late
This is a mantra I try to practice every time, granted that the vicissitudes of life is a constant curve ball, you cannot expect the unexpected and you will be late for this or that, now and then.
So always add some buffer into your time; if you need one hour to complete a task then turn up some place else, add another 30 minutes extra wouldn’t hurt. If you are cutting it too close, and you might be late, let people know in advance, and still endeavor to be on time.
End on Time
Being punctual is not only about being there on time, it is also about ending on time, so that you can let people go about with whatever other tasks they have after your time with them. Ending on time also tells people you can deliver within that stipulated window and speak concisely in a tight package, focused and undistracted.
There are some unforeseen issues that will crop up, make sure you don’t get drawn away from the main point. Keep the main point the main point and take other matters that might come up later when you have settled the main point.
Much more than punctuality
Being on time builds credibility and trust, people can count on you to show up, on time, and things can get done. This is a virtue that will never be out of fashion and you boys must continue to keep to this best practice wherever you go and in whatever you do.
It rained heavily these days, well, the year end monsoon is here. The particular thing about our Dojo is, the shelter holds out the rain, but if it gets windy, rain will blow into and onto the mat, wet to an extent where we cannot train.
I wanted to end Monday’s class due to inclement weather, but Ming Jie texted me to ‘push on’, well, let’s do it then. Thankfully, the rain subsided and we can have class, a small one though, since there is only Ming Jie, Melvin, Radek and myself.
It turned out to be a very enjoyable evening and I had a very deep and powerful epiphany, which I will attempt to pen down.
Who am Iagain?
I consider myself an Aikidoka, a practitioner, not an instructor, I’ve said that before, it will not change how I conduct myself on the mat. I’m far from perfect, nor I consider myself at a reasonable level of techincal competency to dispense Aikido lessons or wisdom.
The imposter syndrome is like an uncomfortable shadow. Harry didn’t even hand the baton to me, I pick it up from where he dropped it, and it is a darn heavy one.
Who will I become
Being thrust into the front, and having to take on the ‘instructor’ role, I got embroiled into who will I become. I can’t help it, it’s a big shoes Harry sensei left behind for me to fill, there is a genuine pressure to not let him down. While I am still struggling with a definition, the only thing I could do, was to turn up for class, as often as I can, and honour the commitment Harry sensei had to Aikido when he was teaching. Just turn up at the dojo, never mind good, bad or ugly.
There is a light in my struggle. You see, it is not about who I will become, it is about who my fellow Aikidokas will become, now that I’ve taken over, through Harry sensei’s legacy and our continued practice, my friends on the mat are becoming better, more peaceful and harmonious.
What did I see?
All this time I’ve been saying that we need to treat each other on the mat with respect, decorum and honour. While we might get frustrated with each other, we still need to know we are there for each other. Train hard, train safe, and train in harmony.
There was harmony on the mat that evening, and it was a beautiful feeling.
Harmony to see that Melvin can correct himself, and relax when I pointed out that there are some technical points he can improve upon, and he did change. Radek, stiff as usual, was amazing, instead of forcing his way through a technique, he stopped himself, corrected the mistake, relaxed and redid the waza. Ming Jie’s technique has also evolved to become less belligerent and more disarming, his commitment to class is certainly a source of motivations for me to keep the class going. That Monday evening, we are learning and reflecting.
As the person offering instructions, when I say move the hips and the hands move, they did it and it worked. There was a genuine change on the mat and my fellow Aikidoka are breaking away from their usual self limiting mindset and embraced something different. Along with my fellow Aikidoka, we have made the mat a safe space for all of us to make mistake, experiment and learn.
The four of us was truly enjoying Aikido and we helped each other explore our techniques, struggles through a spirit of non-judgmental, openness and total vulnerability. It was a very special and precious Monday night to feel that, and it makes me want to go back and relive it again.
Harry sensei would be happy
It’s a thought I shared with my wife when I got home, if for some miracle, Harry sensei was alive that Monday evening and he see where Radek is right now, he would be happy to know what all his teachings and lessons is bearing fruit. He never gave up on Radek, despite of constantly chiding him being stiff and mechanical, Radek was far from mechanical on Monday, I can see a more natural fluid expression of Aikido on the mat. Harry sensei’s tough love paid off.
Harry sensei would also be happy that the tiny little group of us are still training together, growing together and learning from each other. I hope we have done enough for him to know that he left the dojo in a good place. We are not fighting bitterly for egotistical gains, nor critically tearing at each other throat, challenging each other for authority.
There is really not that many of us left, who was with Harry sensei until the end. I’m somehow not concerned with this scarcity, but relish on the fact that this little group of us, is enough to bring a lot of good, love, peace and harmony in our own way. For sure we are not going to change the world in a big bang, but that’s not the aim, we just want to be happy, peaceful human being and the people who interacts with us can feel that. If we can achieve that, I’m sure Harry sensei will be quietly elated, his style of Aikido has cleaned up the world a little bit.