I have been spending the last month or so coaching my dojo’s demo team. This is an outreach group that demonstrates aikido to places like schools, community centers, and conferences. Sensei had asked me if I would revive the team, as we haven’t had one in at least four years or so, back when I was participating as a blue belt.
We were invited to take part in a conference, so I had to act quickly. I sent out a message to selected members whom I thought would perform well in a demo setting, and asked if they were available. From those who responded, we got together, worked out a practice schedule, and I fleshed out a script of techniques that I thought would look interesting to the uninitiated. We practiced every week until the conference.
I was actually unable to go to the demo, as I had an unavoidable schedule conflict, but from all accounts, I heard it went well– the team performed smoothly, and the conference goers were impressed by our demonstration.
Sensei praised and thanked me for coaching the team. I said that the team put in the work. They’re a good bunch of people, and really easy to work with.
In advanced class the following week, I had the good fortune to practice with someone I haven’t practiced with in a very long while. We worked through a technique together, really tested each other’s weak points and learned a lot from each other. At the end of class, I told him that I enjoyed working with him, and that it was a real treat after not having practiced with him in so long. He felt the same way about our practice too. He also said that he felt I’ve improved a lot. I replied that I’ve learned so much from him, and from the other instructors. He said, “They had guided you, but you did all the work.”
And the circle goes on.