On a whim, I decided to take up the challenge proffered at www.blackbeltmama.com: to be asked five interview-like questions. In return, I’m to post my answers here (which I’m about to do), and offer to interview anyone else who posts a comment here. So, if you’re interested, leave a comment saying “Interview me” and I’ll send you five questions as soon as I can.
Side note: some of these are aikido-related, some less so. Just a fair warning.
1. Do you think it is easier for people to learn aikido when they are new to the martial arts entirely, or is it easier if they have background in another martial art?
I’ve thought about this issue for a long time. There are many who say aikido is best suited to those who have already trained in another martial art. Their reasons are usually based around the fact that, in aikido, we don’t do drills on striking, and we don’t spar like those in Karate or Tae Kwon Do on a regular basis. In addition, aikido requires that you create a strong connection with your attacker, so that you can take them off balance. That connection is very hard to acheive if you’re not used to having someone (or multiple someones) standing in front of you, ready to knock your block off. Those who have studied striking arts have experienced this, and are often ready for it. Those who have no previous martial arts experience can have a harder time.
On the flip side, however: aikido, in my opinion, represents a shift in strategy for self-defense. The idea in aikido is not to meet your opponent on their terms, but rather to identify and exploit the errors in their own movements. We are none of us invincible. We stand on two legs; therefore, no matter what attack we attempt to try there is some plane or angle in which our structure is at its weakest. Those with little to no martial arts experience sometimes learn to identify and use these weakness faster than those more accustomed to meeting an attack head-on.
So which side do I come down on? To be honest, I’m going to cop out and say “neither.” What matters most is that you step onto the mat with openness and dedication. True, those with previous martial arts experience might know how to hit harder, but that often just means they learn how to fall faster.
2. What’s the best vacation you ever took?
Ah. I wish I could say it was my honeymoon with my wife. That certainly was a great vacation. But I must say that a vacation my wife and I took before we were married tops it. During that trip, my dad and stepmom rented a beachhouse in South Carolina. We spent a week there with family; going to the beach, relaxing, and getting to know our extended family. I remember one night we sat out on the back porch while a thunderstorm rolled in. The entire family watched as lightening rolled from one cloud to the next. It was amazing. I was already in love with my (soon-to-be) wife, but that trip really made me understand that what I was feeling was nothing temporary–it was something deep and lasting.
3. What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Back to aikido. My biggest pet peeve by far is people who, because we don’t focus on hitting in aikido, think that aikido just plain doesn’t work. These people seem to come in two varieties. One group consists of people who have never studied or tried aikido. It just looks “weird” so they think it doesn’t work, or, worst yet, they have some “buddy” who took “a little aikido” and, when they sparred after a couple of beers, couldn’t hack it. The other group consists of people who DO study aikido, but still think in their minds that “winning” means “overpowering by force.” As I mentioned before: aikido is a different strategy. Winning is critical; but winning is not the same as beating someone–however much we use the terms interchangeably today.
I suppose that to me, people who think aikido doesn’t work because we don’t focus on strikes (though we do study how to apply them!) is the same as someone saying that Tae Kwon Do doesn’t work because kicking puts you on one foot. Aikido not just a series of techniques, it is a strategy. Knowing how to apply a technique is important, but knowing the when and why of that technique is also important. And those who study aikido and yet still want to fight? Again, it’s sort of like people who want to study Tae Kwon Do but see kicking as the only way they should defend themselves.
(And my apologies if the Tae Kwon Do analogy is a poor one.)
So, as you might be able to tell–this is a big pet peeve for me.
4. Who are the three most influential people in your life?
Ah… This is an easy one. But I will not put these people in any order:
- My wife
- My daughter
- Sensei Maruyama
5. If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?
Sigh. I would say that I would like to be a lot less sensitive about what other people are doing. I’d like to relax and be more comfortable in my skin, which is the same thing. I spend too much time worrying about what’s going on in other people’s heads, although I’ve gotten better over time. After all, if I have time to worry, I have time to be focused!
Thanks to Black Belt Mama for giving me these questions. They were fun to answer! Again, if you’re interested, here are the rules:
Here are the rules if you’d like to play:
1. Leave me a comment saying “Interview Me.”
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with the questions and answers.
4. You will include this explanation and offer to interview readers in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.