Today was my first day back at aikido, after a month off the mat. Being away for so long, I notice that the larger movements still come naturally to me; I needed to be reminded of the smaller, detailed movements. I also found I was out of breath. These will all work themselves out with more practice. I’m not worried.
It was good to see the folks again. We wished each other Happy New Year before throwing each other around.
My goal this year is to smoothen out my movements, to work on power, grace, and poise. To be aware of the interactions between uke and nage– harmonizing.
I told Sensei that I wanted to be taken off the teaching schedule. She said she would work on that, and that was the end of the conversation.
I had been agonizing over this decision all last month. I came to the realization that teaching the last class of the day has been draining me to the point where I didn’t find aikido to be enjoyable at all, either in teaching a class or practicing. More often than not, I would have only one or two students in my class, and I had a hard time keeping the energy going for the duration. I would come home late, exhausted, and go straight to bed, and wake up without any energy for myself the next day.
I do realize that teaching is an essential part of learning aikido. In order to teach, I needed to break down the techniques in my head, and then be able to convey them to beginning students. I needed to be aware of every students’ abilities, what their best learning styles are, how much they could be pushed to the next step. These are skills worth learning well. Sometimes I had classes in which the students had breakthroughs in understanding. Sometimes I had to know when to step back and let the students figure things out for themselves. Sometimes I had difficulty in explaining myself in any fashion.
In deciding not to teach, I have perhaps robbed myself of progressing in my aikido knowledge, and have also shirked my responsibilities to the dojo as an advanced student. However, I was heading rapidly towards quitting altogether because I was so unhappy with my practice, and I didn’t want to leave like that.
Whether not teaching will bring back some joy to my aikido, I can’t say. I intend to go to more classes per week and throw myself wholeheartedly back into practice, and I’ll see what happens.