by Sensei Robin Wilden
(Bognor Regis, West Sussex UK)
Robin Wilden (top left)
We have all been there, that moment when your Instructor has demonstrated the technique and then says pair up and practice.
You have that favourite training partner that you immediately make eye contact with, smile and start training.
If that is you, don't worry, you are not alone. This goes on from dojo to dojo so I feel it is important to weigh up the benefits and dangers this brings to your training and development in the Art of Aikido.
We do this for a variety of reasons:
1 - We prefer to feel comfortable with our training partner and familiarity provides that.
2 - We want a good workout.
3 - We want to chat more and not work too hard.
4 - Some training partners can be harder to perform correct technique on so we try to avoid them.
5 - Wanting to pair with someone that is a similar grade.
The list goes on.
When we train, the best way to learn and absorb information is to get a good balance between hard work and enjoyment.
So what are the dangers of falling into the pattern of training with the same partner most of the time? You become too familiar with how they move, how they think, and become very comfortable with their timing.
This is dangerous for your development because your training is no longer unpredictable and you have stopped working on your reactions and timing. This stops the brain from learning through stimulation.
If we follow this pattern of training for any length of time, we start to feel like our movements are going well and we've had a good training session.
What we have actually done is stopped testing and challenging ourselves which gives us a false sense of security.
In my experience, you will be far better off pairing with everyone from White belt to Black belt and always try to take new lessons from every training experience.
By pairing with different students, you continue to challenge yourself, learn how to adapt your technique for different speed attacks, for different body structures and continue to challenge yourself mentally and physically.
Train hard but not tense, and challenge to see how long you can maintain concentration. Be conscious and stay in the present moment to get the most out of every session.
Enjoy your training experiences, and think about what you covered in class after you leave the dojo to help take it in and remember.
Please comment with your own thoughts and experiences.
Sensei Robin Wilden
Arun Aikido Club
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