No common ground

Who here has ever read through any of Osensei Morehei Ueshiba's quotes and sayings and instructions and thought, "What the hell is that nut talking about?"
Or perhaps youve attended a seminar with a highly-ranked instructor approximately two generations older than you and you weren't even sure they were speaking the same language as you.  Oh, sure, they were using proper words and they arranged them into sentences that seemed to abide by most of the rules of grammar and syntax, but you couldn't draw much meaning from them.
The ideas were not passing from their heads to yours through the medium of language.
I have had the extreme fortune of having a regular aikido instructor for the last twenty some-odd years that is a true master.  His skill and knowledge were only exceeded by his willingness to share and his quiet humor.  All of his students love him and respect him greatly.  But at the beginning of our relationship none of us mere mortals were able to understand a damned word he said!  I fondly recall one time he gave me some technical advice, which I didnt understand and couldn't really implement.  Then he told me the same thing six months later - and again in six more months and again six months after that and finally, a couple of years later, I understood what he was trying to communicate.  We found that it took all of us on average about 18 months to decipher his instructions.
We simply had no context - no shared experiences to form a basis of communication.
Over the years, as we persisted with this particular instructor and as he patiently repeated himself, we found that he got better at teaching us and we got better at understanding him.  Eventually we were able to understand things after only six months or a year of patient repetition ;-)
We had gained a shared context or a common ground - a basis for communication.
In my next post I will discuss possibly the most important and valuable form of common ground or shared experience that you can have with your instructor, without which, communication is severely limited if not impossible.  So stay tuned!
Patrick Parker

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