Pass or Fail

When the opportunity to be graded arises, “belt tests”, I question the idea of a pass fail system. A controversial idea. Instructors  typically believe it would be a healthy way to conduct a test. It is getting less common that a student would be asked to test and be failed. Testing is a part of martial arts and students should be prepared to accept a pass/fail grade system. Why is it so controversial then?

Is a student likely to try harder or train more to do better if they fail a test? Seems logical. Well, maybe not. When I joining my first school I watched others pass and fail tests. It was accepted. It was typically their black belt test that was a fail grade but every student kept coming back. I failed mine more than once.

Is it too late to change? Pass or fail.

Lets train

I’m not sure how students decide to schedule in their training day. For adults perhaps it’s solely based on work schedules and family events. For those of you that are able, I invite you to train with any and all sensei offering their time. I hope the excitement of training with new teachers and students brings out the best in us. Everyone certainly has something to offer so please come and contribute what you can.

See you on the mat

Excited for Matti this thursday

i just got back from 6 days on decatur island in the san juan islands.  i’ve got 3 days of grim reality facing me at work this week before i’m able to get back on the mat and train aikido again.

i can’t wait to the experience again the simplicity and precision of matti’s movement.  he has a degree of humility not often found in 6th dan around the world, which is a nice breath of fresh air as well.  he’s finnish, trains/runs a dojo in austria, speaks fluent english (and probably 4+ languages including japanese), and we get to see him first hand here in seattle.  how cool is that?

“Connect, then take down, that’s all there is in aikido, there is nothing else” – paraphrasing Matti Joensuu, 6th dan aikido.

i simply can’t wait…

Jazz up your Aikido at SSA!

Aikido can be many things to many different people. For some, it is a Budo, a martial way of life. For others, it’s a hobby to pass the time. For yet others, it’s a means of physical fitness.

Using music as a metaphor for martial arts, to me, aikido is like jazz. It’s fairly new (less than 100 years old), but has roots in much older arts (like aikijutsu) that might be considered more like blues. I consider striking arts more like rock and roll, MMA (mixed martial arts) is like speed metal, and Tai Chi like classical music. There is no art that is “better” or “more effective”, there are only different personal tastes. All arts have value to their practitioners.

Aikido schools with chief instructors teach their own singular version of jazz. Some teach acid jazz, others fusion jazz, maybe big band jazz, or even instrumental jazz. All are valid styles, but at most other schools, only one version is taught and that style is expected to be learned and recited.

At the Seattle School of Aikido, as a cooperative school with instructors from varying backgrounds, students are taught to find their own version of jazz, not to just copy the instructor’s version. We want students to take responsibility for their own training, and to find their own way. We want everyone to know the basics, but we allow everyone’s personal style to ultimately become manifest for themselves.

For me, I am working on my aikido to be like smooth jazz: comfortable and soft, simple yet soulful. No extra notes, no flashy phrases, just enjoyable music for those with or without training in music appreciation. I have taken my influences from a number of sources (aikido and non-aikido alike), and ultimately come up with my own style. As I continue to practice, I constantly evolve. Can you hear the notes I could but don’t choose to play?

That is my Aikido, my quest for smooth jazz.

Please, come jam with us.