Monday, October 26, 2015

Things Becky taught me

Becky adopted me into her Baton Rouge dojo after I graduated from college and moved back south.  I spent 2-3 years sometime around nidan or sandan  travelling an hour and a half to and from her dojo every Saturday to continue my training.  I think a lot of what Becky was putting out, I was not ready to pick up.  She was always saying things like, It's about the feel in the hands.  Look at this.  Can you feel that!?"  I would always look at her dumbly and she'd say, "Exactly!" and move on to another partner or to the next thing.
  • Do not underestimate little old ladies - Or, as Karl would later put it, "You never know who you're standing next to."  Despite the fact that she was a sweet old eccentric Southern woman teaching a gentle, "peaceful" martial art, she was a scary woman, and it was impossible for anyone not to recognize that she had a lot of potential for that red hair to burst into flame.
  • Repetition, repetition, repetition - She, and her primary students, Usher and Gary, were big proponents on high repetition of technique and kata.  It seems like a lot of days she'd only work on 1 or maybe 2 techniques per class.  I know there were many days when Becky would tell me, "one more time" so many times that I would have rather died than continued with that lesson.
  • I've got a religion, and aikido ain't it - At that point in my life I was into aikido in a BIG way.  I was consumed, and knew for certain that I wanted to do martial arts every day of the rest of my life.  I could not comprehend how someone could do a martial art for 20-30 years and then just stop and do something else. Soon before she retired and turned her dojo over to a couple of her students, She told me,"I've got a religion, and aikido ain't it."  I was impressed, and have pondered that for years - and it turned out to come in handy.
  • You can't just yo, you've got to yo-yo - This harkens back to Becky's and Karl's and Mac's lessons on gentle, rhythmic kuzushi.  She likened it to a yo-yo.  If you just throw the yo-yo real hard (interestingly called "yo" in Japanese, it won't do it's function, But if you tweak it gently at just the right time, it functions perfectly and effortlessly.  She called this "yo-yoing instead of just yoing."
  • It's my dojo and I'll do what I want to, wear what I want to, smoke if I want to... - Becky made Karl crazy in her dojo because she took his advice as advice instead of gospel.  He hated her wearing the Korean TKD dobok jackets that she preferred (softer and better fitting on a woman).  Lots of people have told me over the years that they'd tried out aikido at Becky's in Baton Rouge and just couldn't get into it because they came looking for the ancient oriental sage with the long white beard that they'd seen on the kung-fu movies and what they got was a chain-smoking, intimidating, unashamedly American, Southern, and Christian teacher.

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Patrick Parker
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