And we are back on the mats! After the long pause of practically no face-to-face training for a year, newcomers and older members of the club are getting used to what it's like to connect - or indeed reconnect. It is a big enough shock to see the unmasked faces and make eye contact let alone to grab each others wrists!
In this time we all got a bit rusty, forgot how to move and what it's like to fall. Perhaps the fear of falling or failing is what we are all still dealing with after the mundane days, weeks and months of the past year sitting in front of a computer screen. We want to move forward and succeed! But falling and failing is inevitable. We cannot make up for the lost time. Step-by-step we move and expand in order to receive guidance from our teachers and seniors as we learn from observing, falling and constantly standing up and trying again.
As we welcome beginners to the club this new academic year we seek to help them understand what aikido is. Why do we bow? What do you say at the beginning and end of the class? When do you know when to sit in seiza? These are only some of the questions that students ask as they enter the dojo. Now, that most of us are equipped with our gis (the training uniform worn during sessions) things slowly start to sink in. A general awareness replaces the queries of many new voices. There is not much else you can do. Just observe the technique and connect to your partner.
After an eventful few weeks of training we had our first seminar of the year. Beginners Seminar is the first milestone for newcomers entering the club.
But what is it like being back on the mats with beginners?
Everyone takes away something different from their first seminar with the club. Juniors and seniors get to know each other a bit better - on and off the mats. Exciting new techniques are demonstrated to the new members of the club and the more senior members can re-establish their awareness about forms and techniques what they might need to improve on. Both juniors and seniors listen to their bodies, what works and what doesn't, where are there still physical and mental blocks. Beginners Seminar is an opportunity to reconnect with ourselves and with new and more familiar faces. It gives some time to reflect and re-embrace the meaning of Ai Ki and Do.