There’s something about Mondays and Wednesdays at the dojo that I really enjoy.
When the dojo was at the YMCA, our classes were held on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturdays. Now that we’re at the new space, I felt it was silly to have a dedicated training space and NOT have classes as often as possible. So, we expanded our schedule to the point where we now have classes five days a week. (I would probably offer more, but my family would very much like me home a couple of days a week!) Still, the majority of students at the dojo are used to a Tuesday/Thursday (with occasional Saturday) schedule. As a result, Tuesdays and Thursdays are very busy for me–many students are on the mat, many folks have questions that I try to answer off the mat, and so on. I love these crowded classes. It makes me very glad to see that others are enjoying Kokikai Aikido as much as I do. But, because classes are so large, I don’t have the opportunity to chat with students as much as I would like. People get on the mat, train, and go home with me barely having more than a minute to say hello. There’s nothing wrong with that–I’m sure it’s a part of what happens when a dojo grows as much as ours has. But I enjoy talking with students a great deal. I find out a lot about why they train, what they want to accomplish, how they’re feeling. I like to get a sense of what they are hoping to get out of aikido practice. And, by talking with them, I get an opportunity figure out what teaching approach might work best for them.
And so this is why, despite how much I enjoy seeing a crowded mat, I enjoy Mondays and Wednesdays. They are much smaller and give me a chance to learn more about the students who are there. Yesterday, for example, there were three of us on the mat. Myself, a 3rd kyu, and and 6th kyu. With such a small group, I find an overly-formal class structure seems out-of-place, so warm-ups are a bit more relaxed than usual. We chatted a bit while we warmed up, and then I started to help them with tsuki kokyunage. I find I have to be careful when I am working with only a couple of people–it’s easy to be overly critical, since they have my full attention during class. I try then to only give a few items to work on–after all, nothing substitutes consistent effort when it comes to learning technique. An idea or two now and then seems to be just about right. (Often, I stand on the other side of the mat just to help ensure I don’t nitpick anyone to death.) The whole time, class was quiet, calm, dedicated, and relaxed. It felt good to be a part of it.
After class, we had a chance to talk more about the dojo in general. We’ve been growing so rapidly, that it’s been a challenge for everyone in learning how to adapt. We got to discuss the upcoming Spring Seminar, and a few other plans for the summer. In all, it was a very relaxing evening, and typical of most Monday and Wednesday classes.
Sometimes, I suppose, it’s nice to have a quiet dojo. But I’m still looking foward to our usual big class this evening!