Over the years, I’ve noticed a tendency among Aikidoka to focus on differences, or the things that divide us. Whether those things are technique, pedagogy, or organizations, invariably the conclusion is: “Well, I’m sure that works for them, but it’s certainly not the way we would do it.” The implication, of course, is that the other way, the new way, (which in most cases isn’t really new at all, if only our friend had been paying attention in class), isn’t actually Aikido, or at least the Aikido our friend thinks he’s practicing.
That’s why I love training at other schools, with other instructors. Rather than focus on those “things”, I try (sometimes successfully, sometimes not) to focus on our commonality, or those principles which make our techniques work. It’s not the slight distinctions with ikkyo that matter, it’s the other things–positioning, distance, balance–that make the technique what it is. Sometimes we lose sight of this, to our real detriment.
And the connections don’t just stop there. All the dojos participating in our friendship seminar have real connections to each other. They may be obvious, as between our school, Brevard Aikikai and the Aiki O-Kami Society. Our connection there, of course, is Yamada Sensei.
Or they may be less obvious, but no less real. You may be surprised to learn that the founder of our school, Curtis Rosiek, was a student of Tom “Doc” Walker Sensei, the much loved founder of Sand Drift Aikido. In fact, Walker Sensei tested our earliest students. So our connection with Sand Drift is one of shared history.
And what about our friends at Shugenkai? Well, Woodard Sensei is a student of Kevin Jones Sensei, who studies under Maruyama Sensei. For years, Maruyama Sensei was a senior student of Koichi Tohei Sensei. Dee’s instructor, Yamada Sensei, although an uchi-deshi of O’Sensei, also counted Tohei Sensei as one of his instructors.
The connections are there, if we choose to look.