I was hit repeatedly at an Aikido training over the weekend. And it was an honor.
I was at a seminar from a Japanese Sensei who doesn’t come here often. It was considered a special occasion and rare opportunity for training. Some Japanese Senseis have harsher teaching methods than we are used to here. That is an understatement.
My teacher, Hans Goto Sensei, is gentle, but firm. He doesn’t single you out if you’re doing something incorrectly. Rather, when he sees that some of us are having trouble during a class, he stops, asks for a volunteer (typically, a high-ranking black belt or senior student) and takes apart the technique step-by-step so we can do it more easily.
In Japan, the sensei will yell “Dame!” which loosely translated means a combination of, “bad, dumb, wrong.” Or “no good; not serving its purpose; useless; broken.” Many times during training at Bay Marin Aikido, Hans Goto Sensei would say that if a teacher in Japan doesn’t “Dame” or correct you, they don’t care about you. So it’s good to get attention from them — even if it’s in the form of a “Dame.”
My “Dame” came during jo (staff) practice where the Japanese Sensei wanted me to use my body more and to extend the thrust. He came over to me and started yelling in Japanese, demonstrating how I was doing it wrongly and showing me the correct technique. All before the translator came over, who asked that everyone stop training to watch the “lesson.” There were 100 eyes on me as the Sensei was hitting me above my elbow each time he made point. Hitting me hard. I’m not sure he used the word “wimpy” to describe my form, but it was something close to that.
I kept attempting to make the corrections he “suggested” without success so he kept hitting and yelling. I kept my focus on improving instead of thinking of anything else. I had seen the other black belts he’d “Damed” turn bright red and start to tremble. I was determined not to do that, but to maintain my equanimity and dignity. Some people in my dojo had already told me how he’d made one person cry when they visited his dojo in Japan. Unless my arm or leg was snapped in two, this wasn’t going to be me.
When I told a friend about this she said, “At the first hit, I’d be out of there. Off to get a latte and shopping for shoes.” Of course a part of me wanted out of there. The other part welcomed the opportunity to polish my spirit. As Rumi says, “Criticism polishes my mirror.” My work will be done when nothing can scare, annoy, irritate, anger, or ruffle me. That is a long way off.
This is the same kind of training you’ll need for media interviews so you can stay “on message.” When a host or other guests “Dames” you you’ll be able to keep your equanimity and say what you came to say to your audience with ease and grace. It’s what I share in my sound bite course minus the hitting and yelling. Which you can get for the next 7 days for 50% off by using coupon code: BITE.
I’ve just finished creating a live course on verbal self-defense for girls. It is available to license. If this is something that your school, organization, or club is interested in please jet me an email. If you want to make sure that your daughter avoids the Trump Pu—sy grab, this would be the training for her.