Podcast 19: Peggy Woo Sensei interview part 1 edited excerpt
Jan 13, 2017
MO: You progressed quite rapidly at the Honbu dojo with your Aikido. How did you go about learning? How did you apply yourself learning in that kind of an environment to make that kind of progression?
PWS: I had a lot of discipline and determination. When I first joined the dojo I would see all the senshusei in the course and I always admired their determination and just their discipline in not giving up. I wasn’t really that tough, so I think watching that gave me a lot of insight, so just observing what was happening around me. So, discipline, determination and I think just persevering. There were times when it was really difficult and I thought, ‘aw, why am I doing this?’. The mental side of it was actually more difficult than the physical side because there was no one really there to push you to do it, just yourself. And you had to be strong to make yourself get up at six in the morning every day to go and get into the training. You’re physically tired but it was also mentally exhausting as well.
MO: Can you tell us a bit more about this mental discipline? Perhaps one of the biggest challenges is just getting to the dojo to come to class. You could do it five days a week for so many years. What does it take? How do you do this mental discipline, especially when you don’t feel like coming to class?
PWS: You see other seniors and the teachers in the dojo and you see where they are and you want to emulate that, you want to aspire to that. So that provided a lot of inspiration to me as well. Often times there were mornings where I got up and I thought, ‘aw, I don’t want… it’s really cold out, my bones ache, and I have a long day ahead, and I have to work after this…’, but then another part of my brain would be saying ‘well, you know, just fast forward to the end of the day when you run through the things you’ve done that day and imagine how you feel to know you actually pushed yourself to get up and do all that’. That’s one of the things that I mentally do to trigger myself: ‘ok, get up’, and then I would say to myself, ‘Just follow what that inner voice says. It’s just a physical thing - just get your feet out of the bed, get down…’ Yeah, so it was tough but you just have to work through it.
MO: Any advice to females when they’re partnering with someone who is a particularly big male who is not holding back?
PWS: The same thing I say to all students, regardless of male or female, is that the most important thing is you have to protect yourself. I explain to them about the importance of posture, how you stand and the core body strength. But also, when you start practising ukemi, just controlling how you fall, especially when you fall back. I’ve found that when someone throws you hard, it’s actually more difficult to control your head movement falling backwards than going forwards. And so I’m a very big fan of just the basic koho ukemi, you practise that a lot and you get a really, really, good strong neck muscles and abdominal muscles, and if you can carry that through all the techniques that you do, that will help to minimise any sort of whiplash kind of feel when you get thrown really hard. You learn to control how you move, how you control your centreline and protect yourself. Build your core body strength, so just basically being safe. Also, practising the movements more until you get more confident and more power from your movement. There’s no sense in trying to perfect a technique when you haven’t even perfected how you move yourself by yourself within the dojo.