As some of you may know, Cyril Lagrasta and I recently opened a few weeks ago. It is located in Dance Ireland, Foley Street, Dublin 1. Today I will give you a little insight of how things are going over there. The beginner's course has now been running for 3 weeks and it has to be said that Cyril and I are very pleased with the attendance (about 20 people) and the hard work that the students are putting into the practice. Beginning any new activity is often difficult and challenging but as you know, in Aikido, it is even more so.
People from many different nationalities and backgrounds decided to make the move and sign up for the course. From the top of my head we have people from Ireland, Italy, France, Estonia, Poland and even India!. What was three weeks ago a group of complete strangers is now turning into a dynamic and coherent group of dedicated practitioners. Thanks to the investment of time and the individual efforts that they are providing, they keep pushing each other forward onto the path of Aiki. In fact, because of this dedication, we decided to rent the large 120m2 hall instead of the 50m2 practice room we initially chose in order to provide the best possible conditions for a fruitful and safe practice. The building itself is brand new, very bright and well provided with showers and changing rooms.
From my experience of years of training in many places, particularly in Ireland and Britain, this definitely one of the very best venues I have ever seen out of continental Europe. We should always keep in mind that contrary to French dojos, Irish ones do not get any subvention for helping the set up of their practice and that the conditions of this practice are therefore directly linked to the commitment of the students. It is your hard work that allows us to ensure these optimum training conditions.
In terms of practice, as weeks pass, we can see that people start knowing and trusting each other more and more. The drink we have after each practice is of course a good occasion for strengthening this relationship. To illustrate this, I would like to remind you of what Philippe Gouttard is saying in the interview I published previously on this website. He basically states that as you get to know your partner off the mat, communication occurs much more easily on the mat and as this happens, misunderstandings that might bug us in the beginning start to fade. After a few words and laughs down the pub, the bully from last week's practice is not so nasty after all; we just could not understand each other properly on the mat, that is all.
It is of course even more of a challenge for our beginners who have to face all these new things at once; discovering the teachers, the discipline, the etiquette and finally, the other student. What we have seen in the past week is people trying to help each other by making the little fragment of knowledge they got of a movement available to their partner so that both of them can get a more complete picture of it. They understood very early on that we are here to help each other getting better, not to crush the other person or to show that we know more than him. What might sound as obvious to many of you is often not understood in many places, even at high levels.
I would also like to take this occasion to thank the students from Fairview dojo for their very positive attitude and for their help with guiding the new students through the new techniques and concepts they are dealing with.
We will be consolidating this learning in the following weeks and soon, the next major challenge will be for them to start training with more advanced students of other dojos. I hope this will be a rich learning experience for them and for us too. I hope they will keep practicing.
Guillaume teaching in Foley Street