The first part of this is excerpted from a long ago blog.
This time I was determined to start a class on a different footing. I wanted it to be an integral part of their regular programming and I wanted there to be a counselor regularly attending each class with definite responsibilities:
to observe vets’ reactions during class,
to be able to deal with any issues which might arise as they occurred, either by stopping the class and dealing or taking a vet outside if they were having issues,
to conduct a “debriefing” after each class, 15 minutes or so,
to insure communications with the vets, regular counselors,
1. about what a vet might be doing in class
2. if there were any indications of effects that Aikido might be having on a vet
3. if there was anything we could do in class to reinforce what the counselor was doing.
I wanted daily feedback from the counselor and regular meetings with the staff, at least monthly.
I am also concerned that, if these classes are having a positive effect on the vets, it is the practice of Aikido and the particular structure of the way we are teaching that is the primary source of that effect, not just the personality of the sensei. I don’t want it to be just the “Tom Osborn effect”.
If we are to develop a form of Aikido which is especially suited to benefit veterans with CRPTSD, and which can be utilized effectively by any aikidoka or dojo in the country we should have a carefully structured program for them to work from. I recognize the important role of the sensei, their personality, as well as the essence of, and how they embody, their Aikido, and I believe that their style of Aikido, as well as their individual and “Aikido personality” will be a vital part of their classes, I also know that these vets are apt to pose a unique range of issues not experienced in the usual group of students. The KNS program attempts to, not only allow for, but encourage these vets to start and maintain the practice of Aikido. It should be a platform on which each sensei can build a program of their Aikido, appropriate to their area and their vets.
The primary purpose of KNS is to have Aikido programs specifically designed for vets available to every vet, anywhere in the country. To this end, I hope to have the staff counselor critique my performance, noting what seems to be just me, and if and how that can be codified into a standard curriculum or teaching methodology that can serve as a foundation on which any sensei can build a successful program.
At one time it was a commonly held belief by many in the Aikido community that children cannot learn Aikido, that it was not appropriate for most women, that it could not be practiced by the handicapped or the elderly. Most of us now know that the true depth and power of Aikido can be available to anyone. We must only determine what is the essence, the soul of Aikido; then our responsibility is to develop ways, teaching methods, structures, that can enable these “inappropriate” folks to reap the benefits of this art. There are thousands of veterans whose lives are a hellish world of constantly revolving physical, psychological and spiritual torment, who can benefit from what we have to offer. It is now up to us to develop the Aikido which enables them to enter and benefit from this art, this way of peace, this world, this universe opened to us by Morihei Ueshiba.