Better spend time ensuring your aikido works than spending it trying to prove someone else’s aikido doesn’t!
If we accept that measuring ourselves against colleagues and friends is a common acquired behaviour, how does that apply in a martial art where competition is not only the lacking feature but also is actively discouraged?
Well, for a start, comparing oneself with others is a very unhealthy practice, not only in Aikido, but in life in general. Comparison, if one ever needs to be made must be against a fixed standard, a feature, notably missing when comparing with another individual who is in him/herself also evolving. The problem in Aikido, is that the lack of competition gives way to a negative emotion that manifests itself in a form of comparison with others, either by putting oneself down in favour of another, or by criticising another person’s technique in favour of one’s own!
Either way, no one is better off for the comparison.
My main reason for this blog is to highlight a practice that one sees, on the mat and off it, we see Aikidoka speaking negatively about others’ technique or form, finding faults here and there in what they do, that sort of negative energy masked as ‘analysing or criticising’ other people’s technique, is in reality a form of martial ‘bitchiness’ to be perfectly honest.
The serious Aikidoka in my opinion ought to have one focus only and that is to train to better oneself and improve one’s technique, not to get a grade or a black belt, not to become better than John the dojo’s top student, not to become favourite student, but simply to just get better. Aikido, and any martial art for that matter is about improving in a steady stepwise progress, which even though slow at times, it is progress never-the-less. Comparison point should be yourself (now) vs. yourself (last session).
My Sensei, often says,
You are only as good as your last Kamae (form/posture)
I think it sums it up.
When we practice with that in mind the focus then becomes clear, the progress becomes more obvious and the path better defined.
I accept it is part of our lives to compete and compare, and if one really must, it is best not to have it turn into nasty emotion. Make sure you search your heart and ask yourself, are you venting negative energy towards someone by disguising it as ‘criticising’ his technique? Is this ‘criticism’ serving a purpose at all part from making me feel better by putting someone down?
That someone will almost certainly outperform you in certain techniques as you are almost certainly going to out perform him in some.
In my opinion, It is always better, to spend your time making sure your Aikido works than spending it trying to prove someone else’s doesn’t!
So, for a few years now, I have worked on making sure I don’t let my emotions run negatively by concerning myself with other’s performance… If I have a good word to say, I say it, if not, I try to refrain. It is really difficult to do, and I might fall into that trap at times but I know I have certainly got better over time.
This is not to say one can’t have an opinion, you can, find someone who inspires you and follow his/her technique and form, that is fine and a good time pass, however, the opposite is not. Don’t go around findings someone who’s form does not inspire you and engage in false ‘critique’.
I guarantee you will see positive outcomes in your own Aikido as a result.