My first seminars

As most of our students know, we encourage attendance at seminars as soon as a student can take basic ukemi competently. Seminars give you real-world Aikido experience and take you out of your comfort zone.

Sometimes, I describe students who are content to train only in their own dojos as “hothouse flowers.” They have trouble adapting when you put them among the weeds outside the greenhouse.

It’s a big step for a student to jump into the deep end of the pool and attend a seminar, but the rewards are many. One of our students, Tibor Bodor, a gokyu, recently began to go to seminars. We asked him for his thoughts.

“I had watched a couple of seminars since my first day of Aikido training, but I participated in my first Aikido seminar a few months after my 5th-kyu exam. While my schedule was definitely the main reason for delaying my participation in a first seminar, I cannot pretend that hesitation did not play a role. Having been since to a second one after just a couple of months, I thought I’d share some impressions with those who, like me, are at the beginning of Aikido training.”

“Although there is no substitute for participation, watching seminars and classes is a form of training and is a first step to understand what happens during seminars. Feeling too inexperienced to take the next step and actually participate is normal.  But no matter what your rank or experience, it is undoubtedly a learning opportunity. After all, everyone at the seminar is there to learn Aikido.”

“Learning builds confidence, so during my second seminar I was not thinking so much about my inexperience, but rather focusing on absorbing as much as possible. Trying to pick up just one or two concepts is often more enriching than trying to cram all the techniques and nuances into your head. So, at the next one, I’ll try to just get better at just a couple of concepts.”

“Also, during the second seminar, I didn’t just revert back to my usual way of doing techniques. I actually started to make an effort to watch what the instructor was doing and try what they were demonstrating. More often than not, learning is enriched as much by the differences in approach as the similarities. Learning from differences applies also to training with new people whom you’ve never met, as an important benefit of attending seminars. It is about feeling their approach of interpreting what the teacher is demonstrating.”

“And since seminars are more crowded than regular classes and usually include multiple sessions, for the next seminar I will look into bringing another gi to feel more comfortable in the later sessions. Perhaps the training partners may even appreciate it! Part of learning… “

“Not least, my first seminar extended over two days and had out-of-town participants. It was organized by Yumi- and Jim-sensei to celebrate the joint 20th anniversary of their respective clubs. Quite a few of us managed to fit into our Saturday evening schedules a fun dinner (a big anniversary cake included) with our training partners – first of all, because what happens off the mat it is part of the fun of attending seminars!”