Friday, August 19, 2016

...when I was just a peanut


I started playing basketball and baseball really early. I had 5 older brothers….it was our culture….we ran, we hid, we threw balls and caught them or got hit in the face. One of the first things I remember my father telling me was “keep your eye on the ball” as he pitched a baseball.  I would shoot at the hoop on my brother Dickie’s 6 foot 4 shoulders when I was just a peanut. Movement is my spiritual practice.  If I am walking or riding my bike or playing mitt’s and sticks with Ron, you know I am happy.

So aikido was a natural for me. Not that I knew it when I started. I just thought Ron was a fine looking fella, to quote my mother.

For the 1st year I stumbled about not having a clue. Not one clue. I did not understand the whole concept of being uke. Why would anyone want to fall down?  I could not roll…not at all. It was very scary and pitiful. I used to hide at the end of the line but the guys would push me up and encourage me even though every roll and every fall hurt like hell. I cried after class a lot. Once after a particularly terrifying class I vowed never to come back. Ron saw me scurrying out and he called me over to explain it was only noise when the guys yelled as they attacked me. He said noise can’t hurt you and the guys would never hurt me anyway. I didn’t totally believe him but I really appreciated him taking the time to explain that to me. When I was a kid my father would yell at me and then hit me. I never knew there was a separation.  I really needed aikido training badly.


So I kept training 3 times a week. And here I am waiting for classes to start up again in September….every few days I do some rolls so I know I still remember how. I will be 59 years old next week and I can fly through the air and land in a nice round roll. I love that and I love the me that aikido has helped me find.  

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

brown belt enegry...gulp.

With so much brown belt energy around it seemed as if the dojo might explode like a teenager does when confronted by a parent: Hurdling accusations, running in fear, hiding in the woods, peeking out to see if it is safe to come out.

The dojo is not just a physical space. It is a combination of energies that synergize to hold us all when we are weak or strong, emotional, vulnerable, serene or hurting.

We can be ourselves here in this place of mutual respect where we learn to give and get. We can hold space and energy for people here and we can receive both when we are in need.

Our dojo is not for everyone. One must be very brave and have fortitude to stay when the very naked aspect of our true selves arrive.

The dojo can hold space for most of us. But it cannot fix issues that must be addressed in other ways.

We are what we are, which is strong, true and even magnificent. Aikido training can complement our path and it can enhance self-knowledge and self-defense.  And we are not the answer to all of life’s ills. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Question: Is Aikido ever emotionally painful?

Is aikido ever emotionally painful?

Answer:
Yes, sometimes so much so that I want to cut and run. But I stay because that is that I was taught to do and that is what I teach others to do. Our dojo is a safe place to meet your self.

 Sometimes I don’t like what I find. I can stay anyway. The next uke attacks and I throw. When it is my turn to attack, I do and I receive the throw. My mind gets quieted through the practice. My attention to others relieves me of my self-centered fears and self-doubt. Regard for others always helps me come back to what is important. For me what is important is the safety of the space, the constancy of training and the peace that comes from mind-full attention.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Question: Why does it matter where I place my hands?



Answer: Because the body is like a wild pony. It has to be trained to your bidding. If we let our hands just land willy-nilly all the time we do not develop good habits.  We ask our body to do something a certain why and then work to develop that way by training.  Aikido affords us the opportunity to accept feedback without judgment and to work that feedback into our movement to create correct feeling and impeccable technique.

Another reason it matters where we place our hands is because we want to be mindful every moment in class and out of class. By paying attention to details we set the intention for our hands to go a certain way and then we follow with the movement to come as close to that intention as we can. This practice helps us develop mind body co-ordination and gives us a reference for how we can be at all times.

We can notice distractions like problems or compliments and then come back to our centers and be   paying attention to all the details of our daily life. Nothing really feels as good as a technique done just right so we blend with our uke and they fall in complete coordination to nage’s direction. Life feels better when we are in the flow. Aikido gives us an example of that flow. We let go and move with what is in a precise and practiced matter. Our effortlessness comes from much practice.


Saturday, June 18, 2016

How does aikido change me?





Question: How does aikido change me?

Answer: Just the act of stepping out on the mat with an open mind begins the process.
For example:  Nage says: “When uke grabs me like that I can’t move.” Sensei then shows us how to move when we are grabbed like that. We move what we can. Ourselves. We don’t move what we can’t…someone else. Our moving changes the relationship between us. Harmony is re-established through the process.  The process creates a feeling in both uke and nage of peacefulness that they can pass along to others.

Out in the real life dojo the same thing can happen. Me: “So and so makes me feel (insert a feeling word here such as angry, frustrated, happy…)”.  Then I get to look at the lie that I just thought. So and so can’t make me feel anything. My feelings come from my own judgments and thoughts and desires:  things I can change. So if conversations or experiences with so and so make me feel  (again insert your feeling word of choice) I can choose how I want to respond.

Aikido gives us the tools to look at what we can change, ourselves. Aikido offers us the opportunity to take responsibility for every word we say and every action we make. Aikido is the truth. Our training takes away our ability to deceive ourselves and others. Aikido strips us down to the bare essentials of you and of me and what we can change. I can change me and you can change you. Once we experience that truth we will always be in question.  Hang on for the ride.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

a thought brought about by the Latham Aiki Friendship seminar

I have been thinking about what someone said about this moment they had in college where the perfect feeling happened. He looked at the basket and knew the ball was going into the basket.

Then this person said they were searching for that feeling again. I think searching for any feeling is a mistake. The now is missed by trying to recreate it.

Another feeling might happen but it will be when mind and body are coordinated again. Not when the mind and body are trying or when the mind is longing for something that happened in the past.

Paying attention to what is, accepting what is and moving with what is, is the practice. I have those feelings all the time. I never look for the feeling. It emerges out of the now and me paying attention to what is.

Friday, August 15, 2014

No, I am right....







Whenever we say "No, I am right," we stop the flow of communication...when we insist that uke move this way or that way by force uke will resist and get stiff. It becomes a battle of wills and the stronger physical person will win. They will be right.

Aikido is being open to what is and what will be. Uke attacks. I let uke move within the bounds of suggestion and encouragement. By adding my own energy and providing direction the throw is accomplished.

 Am I right? Maybe... maybe not...yet it feels so much better than forcing my way on someone else.