A number of years back I had hernia repair surgery, which as you can imagine, put me out of teaching for several weeks. It was quite painful to walk from one place to another, not to mention I couldn’t lift anything above a few pounds! While it would have been easier for me to enjoy my “time off” and catch up on my channel surfing, I chose to hobble to class and participate in Mitori geiko. Mitori geiko translates as observation practice and is commonly used when one is unable to take part in the physical aspect of aikido class. Being able to observe your teacher conducting class without any of the distractions that you would encounter while being a participant is a unique view unlike any other. The ability to see from the outside, take notes and really ponder what is being presented is an invaluable aid to our progression. Much like watching a dvd, you could not advance in skill without the physical practice of the art simply by observing. But Mitori geiko born out of “life happens” is a useful tool to continue our practice beyond the physical.
A strong student-teacher relationship, where the student seeks to learn as much from the teacher as possible, naturally brings about this urge to utilize Mitori geiko. Assisting the teacher after class with various cleaning duties, administrative functions and simply offering yourself to the dojo goes a long way in forging that necessary bond of a student-teacher relationship.
While Mitori geiko was born out of necessity due to training injuries, life circumstances, etc., we should constantly be in a state of Mitori geiko. Our whole practice is about observation not only through our eyes but our spirits as well. This can only come to fruition through the strong personal commitment of a mutual bonding of a student-teacher relationship. Our entire life is about this practice. This awareness, where segments of time are sewn together giving the appearance of an infinite amount of time available, is paramount to our fully realized practice of the art of aikido.