Training at Hombu Dojo with Philippe Gouttard


gepg1Today, I would like to share a moment that too few of us Aikidoka get the opportunity to experience. I am talking about practicing with your teacher in the conditions where he is a “normal” student. I guess I am writing this today to try to intellectualize and understand an experience that was at same time very beneficial but also extremely frustrating for me, hopefully, giving you some useful points along the way.
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The liberating touch

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For almost 30 years, Aikido has allowed me to evolve and move forward in life. At first I considered practice solely as a body need, a physical need, just like the practice of team sports which I was very familiar with before taking up Aikido. I did not feel ready to meet the requirements of an individual practice that was exposing the body to tremendous pains and strains. The seiza posture, the falls, joint locks, the immobilizations etc. After several years facing difficulties and injuries, my body slowly got used to answering the different situations it was being placed under but more than that, it even took pleasure in moving with a partner. After several painful years of sustaining injuries and facing difficulties, my body learned to adapt and answer to the various solicitations and slowly, it even started to take pleasure in moving with a partner. It is during this journey that the many teachers I met educated me and turned me into what I am now. Thanks to their generous help, I reached the situation which is mine nowadays. I want to humbly thank here all these professors who helped me, in particular Christian Tissier who has advised me in all my research of a new vision of practice and who allowed me to go to Japan and to understand this Aikido that was so new to me. Nevertheless, it quickly appeared to me that in order to understand a particular teacher, one had to meet many others. I had chosen to follow Christian Tissier but it seemed capital to me to enrich my practice to the contact of other masters. Since I did not reside in Paris, I had to learn to memorize what I was seeing at classes and seminars.

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The necessity of critical thinking in Aikido

critic1As a scientist, I have often encountered Aikido teachers who considered the epistemological approach as an aberration in the study of an oriental martial art, sometimes even like an insult directed towards their work or their own persona. Today, I would like to discuss the benefits there are in studying a Japanese martial art while keeping in mind what the Enlightened have brought to us.

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Warming up

philippe-gouttard-02.thumbIt seems important to me to give some thought to this important part of the practice in order to insure an injury and a frustration-free practice. What first comes to my mind is this: if we were to practice our art in another place than in the dojo, we would have to move fast and with energy without undergoing the process of preparing our body for action.
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The absentee

pasqWhen you are teaching an Aikido class, you feel responsible for- but also grow very fond of the people who choose to train with us. Aikido has the ability to make people relationships very special. The result is an intimate link among trainees, very different from those that develop among teammates or “gym-mates”, or work colleagues. I’m not talking about everybody becoming friends, but certainly we are companions along a very special path, an intimate one, I’d say, one where we develop our human potential; in this, the teacher is only a person who is just a bit ahead on the same path.
For the person in charge things are a bit different, though. He or she grows a particular feeling towards the ones who chose to train with him/her. It is a feeling similar to the ones between parent and child, with due differences. The parental instinct is there for sure, so if some of the trainees quits, a small quantity of suffering is granted.

Aikido and I

pasqI started Aikido with Valter Francia in 2001 and I will always be thankful for this. He introduced me to this art and I will never forget it. I still remember the euphoria at the beginning of every day I knew I would have trained later. The day started in a better way just because there would have been Aikido. The ones who know me well are sure this is the truth and that when I say/write something, there is no hidden goal, nothing is between the lines. Never.
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