Who is Aiki-Doh!-ka?
Aiki-Doh!-ka embodies the sincere, earnest and somewhat whimsical aspiration that imbues all aikidoka. You might say he is the Don Quixote of Aikido - he has the best intentions, but is somewhat lacking in his execution. Having the heart of a mighty warrior, he is trapped in a frail and clumsy body; the fool who rushes in, he never gives up; although a little bit afraid (he trembles at the thought of nikajo), he will always do his best, despite misgivings about the outcome. Therefore he is courageous.
Aiki-Doh!-ka believes whole-heartedly in the precepts of Aikido, despite being completely baffled by its application, and stands in awe of those who are proficient at it. Either tentative or precipitous, he is never measured in his approach.
If you see him do a breakfall, you might be put in mind of a bowling ball crashing into pins. He never finds the right spot in line, trips on the mat often, and holds his bokken upside down. His uniform is covered in duct tape and comes undone during warm-ups - which he does in an asynchronous and opposite way to the rest of the class.
But he has his moments. Despite his shortcomings, he has the occasional good throw and is alternately amazed and proud. He progresses, little by little - imagine him as a yellow belt (of several years duration; he is deathly afraid of testing).
Being slight of build and not very strong (think Mr. Bean), he is vulnerable. His capacity to soak up punishment is astounding (hence the duct tape), and he never gives up.
If he was in the cavalry, he’d have an arrow through his hat, be a little bit afraid of his horse, and drop his bullets in the sand; yet he’d go on every sortie and give you the last drop of water from his canteen.
He goes to every class, asks a lot of questions and takes copious notes.
Aiki-Doh!-ka’s milieu is, of course, the dojo; but he sees it a little differently, perhaps, than you and I: the mats don’t seem very soft and have far too many cracks; he often trips when getting on the mat, scattering weapons in every direction; there is never enough room for him (and his hapless partner), and he often finds himself near the edge of the tatami or bumping into other people. To Aiki-Doh!-ka, Sensei glows faintly and all black belts glide about an inch off the mat.
He is well liked (or at least tolerated) by most of his fellow aikidoka. They include many arch-types:
Aiki-Smoke-ya has very strong technique and a telling twitch or tic. One should approach him with extreme caution and never, ever surprise him.
Chatty-doka spends most of his practice time talking and joking. He asks a lot of questions and requires a lot of convincing.
Wrong way-doka takes the wrong stance, cuts between partners and faces the wrong way during warm-ups and kihon dosa. He will never know the difference between tenkan and tenkai.
Moose-doka hasn’t the faintest idea what ‘ai’ means and views the execution of aikido techniques in much the same way as mowing the lawn.
Seri-doka is very fussy about technique and etiquette.
Mystical-doka is from California and very ‘into’ concepts like ‘blend’ and ‘flow like water (dude)’.
Negative-doka is convinced that nothing will work. If it does work, it must have been an accident.
Erudite-doka: knows seven names for every technique and reads voraciously about aikido and everything related to it, i.e. Bushido, Zen Bhuddism. He pontificates endlessly.