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June 01, 2015

What is Education?

(What is the definition of Education?)

 

Of course there is more than one answer to this question, but one answer could be “to acquire good habits”. To be more precise, it is “continuing to practice good habits till it becomes part of us.” 

If good habits are part of our daily routines, these good habits become “assets” for our whole lives. If bad habits are part of our daily routines, then these bad habits are like “obstacles/shackles” for our whole lives.

For good habits to be a part of us, sometimes this may take a few weeks, months or even years.

The person/teacher leading or helping someone or a student cultivate good habits needs to always be patient and continuous when leading and helping.

When I was a young child, I was not good at aligning my shoes neatly when I took them off at the door. 

In Shinshin Toitsu Aikido, our footwear is regarded as an “extension of our own feet,” if our footwear is not properly aligned neatly and disturbed, the same is thought of our feet as also being untidy and disturbed.

During that time, Soshu Kochi Tohei Sensei who was like a father than a teacher would patiently call out to me when my shoes were in a clutter and we both would align my shoes together.

This happened many times as I failed to learn and make it a good habit quickly. Instead of getting angry with me and telling me “why do still make the same mistake, even after I have repeatedly shown and taught you that you should align your shoes”, he would still always patiently align my shoes neatly together with me.

What he was strict about was that I always had to come and align my shoes neatly, he did not make any exceptions and he never allowed my shoes to be left scattered around.

I am not sure how long this went on or how long it would have carried on, aligning my shoes neatly by myself became a good habit without me realizing and knowing.

My mother, who was more hot tempered and strict, used to marvel at my father’s patience with me but he would always answer that “this is the fastest and quickest way to change and cultivate a habit.”

This habit of always aligning my shoes neatly is still a part of me now. Even though my father has passed away, I have still maintained and continued this habit.

Despite being brought up in that way by my father, when I first became an instructor I thought in order for students to progress well, it was necessary to be strict when teaching them. I soon realized then that this was not correct.

When teaching students and children Shinshin Toitsu Aikido, it is very important for them to learn good habits and how to continue to practice good habits. Which as a result, this would be the fastest way that they can change habits and continue to maintain good habits in their daily lives.

By being strict and severe to students in trying to make them change their bad habits, the result would be that this was almost impossible and not successful.

An example of a glass of water having a drop of red ink in it, to try and remove the red ink drop from the water is very difficult, it would be much easier to gradually pour in more clear clean water till the red ink stain disappears and the color of the water goes back to its original clear state.

The same applies to changing habits, instead of trying to repress and stop bad habits it would be much more affective to change by adding new good habits. The problem then is: having the patience “to keep continuing to pour clean and clear water till the change happens.”

During an Aikido grading, there was an applicant who kept making the same mistake at the same part of an Aikido technique. Each time he made a mistake, he would keep re-starting the technique from the beginning even though he had no instructions from the Examiner grading him to do so.

By continuously repeating the same mistake over and over again, there was no choice for the examiner but to ask him to re-take the exam again at another date. According to the applicant’s instructor, we were told that he usually never made any mistakes during practice and that there was usually no problem during that part of the techniques.

This student, as we soon found out would always stop in the middle of an Aikido art technique/ waza and re-start from the beginning whenever he made a mistake during training. This habit of always stopping Ki flow happened so many times it became a bad habit. As a result of this bad habit going unnoticed or changed, things did not go well for him during the exam.

If it was up to me, I would make sure that this student always continues the practice of his art techniques / waza all the way from start to end, so that he does not make a bad habit of stopping Ki flow during training.

What is most important during training is that we always “continue and do not stop Ki flow” by making this into a good habit, we can then apply this same habit of “not stopping Ki flow” to our daily lives as well as our work. Continuing this good habit would be an asset for life. If we always practice “stopping Ki flow” and it becomes a bad habit.….. , it would be very frightening to think about the consequence it would have on our lives.

“Always keep extending Ki till the end”

“Always maintaining positive Ki”

“Always keep company with people who have a good, Calm state of Mind”

“………”

By always practicing Shinshin Toitsu Aikido art techniques/ waza with good habits, only then can we start to apply the same lessons that we learn from the dojo into our daily lives.

 

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