Tips to Becoming a Good Uchi-Deshi

I believe this may be helpful to anyone interested in becoming an uchi-deshi at New York Aikikai.

1. Practice Aikido as often as your home dojo allows. Come in early, stay late and be involved.

2. Try to keep the complaining to a minimum. In New York they will make you train anyway. (unless it’s serious)

3. Protect yourself and try not to get injured. Old injuries will come back to haunt you unless you are careful.

4. Get in good with your instructor (lol). A recommendation to Yamada Sensei is key in gaining entrance to the program.

5. Work as hard as you can, especially in the months preceding your apprenticeship. This will soften the blow to your body physically.

6. Don’t expect to get special treatment. Expect to work hard during the five or six classes you are expected to take. Do your chores on time and follow the rules and you will get along fine.

7. If Sensei wants it done or hints that he wants something. Don’t think because of the polite tone of his voice that it can be done later. Do it now!

8. When you are training and someone is smashing you into the mat. Ask them what is wrong with your ukemi, because the technique hurts. Either they will happily educate you on your mistake or they will be nicer.

9. When you feel like crap try to train anyway and think of it as building character. Just don’t puke, pass out, or bleed all over the mat.

10. Wash your arms up to the elbows, and your face after you train. This will keep you healthy longer. Lots of nasty bugs spread around when people sweat all over you.

11. Don’t watch the clock when you’re training. This makes the class seem longer. Try instead to focus on your breathing, your technique, or just pulling yourself off the floor one more time. Its always nice when the teacher calls out “hashiundo” which means back stretch in Japanese, signaling the end of class. You then think “Wow that was short. I can’t believe it’s over.”

12. Eat as much as you can. Sleep as much as you can. If there is someone to pay your bills, let them do it. It is hard to have a job that does not cut into classes at least a little bit.