Posted on by Andrew Barron
Rule 1: Keep an eye on Sensei at all times
Zanshin – loosely “mental connection” or “awareness” — is an important ability to cultivate. At higher levels the top instructors value intuition and spontaneity more than a student’s ability to just follow ritual and protocol. Watch the footwork, the follow through, and listen to their analogies on how to incorporate these into your practice.
Rule 2: Be ready to take initiative
The Sensei is there to teach. They want to connect with students who have the interest and ability to learn what they are teaching. Initiate a training moment with the Sensei as they move around the mat.
Rule 3: Don’t make Sensei wait to approach you
Your Aikido training will reach a new level when you start receiving technique directly from top instructors, and when you build personal student relationships with them. Those relationships start at seminars as you progress in you aikido when you ask questions or are asked to be an Uke.
Rule 4: Make training dates on the mat
Pick out higher-level students training on the mat. Sometimes these are teachers in their own right. Then, get out and train with them! When Sensei claps to end training, use those seconds to hustle over next to a high-level Aikidoka. When training resumes, be bowing in front of that person before they have the opportunity to look around. Of course, they might indicate that they already have a partner (they follow this rule too), but don’t take it as a personal rejection; just immediately say “Sure! Can we train later then?”
Rule 5: Have a question ready
Use opportunities on and off the mat to ask the Sensei questions. Don’t push your theories on the Sensei or try to show how clever you are, but ask an honest question about the principles or concepts that they are trying to teach during the seminar.
Rule 6: Take one thing away
Keep one thing – one principle, one idea, one feeling, one reaction – in your mind throughout the seminar. Always do what your home Sensei is teaching after a seminar, but try to apply what you learned in everything you do for a while to really internalize it. Discuss your “one thing” with your sensei and senior students who went to the seminar, and compare notes and insights. The “one thing” might not be the words that the Sensei said, but the feeling you experienced while exploring it, or even the thoughts and reactions you had to that teaching.
Although this is number six this rule is the most important to your development as you cannot absorb all that happens in a seminar.
These “rules” have been borrowed, paraphrased, and summarized (with permission) from: Tampa Aikido