Saturday, February 11, 2017

a bit graphic




Today in class I got triggered…I started to feel like I was going to throw up. I felt teary and shaky inside.  We were doing an irimi nage and Ron asked us get inside nearer to uke that I like to. I like to take their balance earlier to avoid the intimacy that comes from a closer in throw.

When I was 24 a really big guy, about 6’6” who must have weighed at least 350 pounds knelt on my shoulders and shoved his penis in my mouth and down my throat. I thought of him in class while the panic attack was starting. I felt my body disappear and the trapped feeling come back.

In the past I have stayed on the mat when these feelings come up but today was different. I did not try to deny the feelings. I noticed them. I gently observed to myself, “Oh, you feel nauseous…are you going to cry?”

Next, I felt my feet on the blue mat. I noticed the other people in the dojo…There was Jocelyn. There was Anne. I see Ron.

 I breathed deliberately in through my nose and out through my mouth several times. I kept moving.  I attacked when it was my turn to be uke. I consciously asked questions through the panic that was hovering about a correction I received as nage.  I felt my hakama with my hands; I felt the inside of my mouth with my tongue. And I could not feel my center.

Near the end of class Ron had us a do a centering exercise. I told him I could not find my center. He reminded of an exercise we do to explain centering to someone who has never met her center.
He told me to place my hands on the outside of my abdomen just below my belly button. Then he asked me if I could feel my hands on my abdomen. I could.

He said, “Go inside your body with your consciousness just between your hips under your where you can feel your hands. He asked, “Can you feel your center?” I could. I lost my center when I took my hands away but I found it again each time he reminded me how to do it again. It took three times before I was able to keep my center. I asked him for help all three times. He patiently reminded me how to do the exercise.

I am writing this because I have been training in aikido for 30 years. This simple centering exercise still helps me. A better way to say it is that it saves me. I don’t have wander about anymore in a panic.

Techniques help.

Trusted people help.

 I can help myself with a little changed behavior like noticing how the mat feels to my feet on the floor. The panic attack subsided. I was able to stay in the now; accepting that, yes, a big man hurt me when I was 24 and I don’t have to hurt myself today.



Monday, February 6, 2017

uke should



When the judgments pop up on the mat what can we do about them?

You know what I mean, sometimes in my head I hear “you (meaning me) suck”, or “uke (meaning you) should relax more or follow better” and so on….

None of the above is conducive to blending or correct feeling.  So what I do is notice the thought, feel the feeling and keep training. My experience is that the process of noticing, feeling and continued training works very effectively. I am not wasting any time or energy denying or minimizing my negative self-talk. I am not building a case against uke by focusing on what I think is wrong with them. Usually for me, those kind of thoughts are proceeded or followed by an uncomfortable feeling.

So I breathe in deeply, I exhale fully and wait my turn, then I do the next thing I am supposed to be doing, whether it is bokken movement, attacking my nage of throwing my uke. I pay very close attention to what I am supposed to be doing and before I know it my mind is clear again and my spirit flies free.

I can’t control what my mind thinks initially.

 I can respond in a powerful way by being present with my thoughts and feelings, letting them pass and focusing on the task at hand.



Saturday, January 14, 2017

buoyed by the response to beginner’s class



We are running a beginner’s class and I am buoyed by the response. We had 3 new people on the mat on Thursday night.  Other times in recent years we have had no response to the offer of a beginner’s class.

When we first started offering basics classes about 25 years ago the response was great….often 12 to 14 people would attend. It seems to me that the trend now had been for more confrontational arts. I think MMA has had an influence on people who are interested in martial arts.


Maybe now the pendulum is swinging back to people being interested in martial arts for other reasons than to beat people up or to be stronger than everyone else. I sure hope so. We are ready. Let the influx continue. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Resting, leaning, conviction, abandon







Resting, leaning, conviction, abandon 

Ukes will rest or wander if not led. Nage will lead where uke's energy is headed.

  Following and leading become one as the energy and intention becomes the focus. What seems to be matters not and what is prevails. 

Why would uke lean....why not if they have a place to rest? Move the resting place and uke will lose balance.
Letting, not forcing with open palms and soft finger tips...no grabbing, pushing or pulling only guiding.

When uke comes around to see where nage went she will move in the energy trough if it is made available. First the void must be defined by nage's dramatic, dynamic movement. Uke is encouraged to follow by enthusiastic soft letting. 

When nage moves with intention and invitation uke can't help but follow. It is like offering roast beef to a Dalmatian...uke is willing and eagerly follows on the sweep of defined energy in the described channel. 

Aikido requires faith. Nage must believe in his ability as he defines the channel with this vibrant movement, strewing energy as he leads the way. Then nage follows uke as nage continues to lead. Nage must lead with no thought as to if uke will follow, and uke must trust that nage will lead.

It sounds crazy until you have felt it. To feel aikido one must take a leap of faith and move as nage with conviction and move as uke with abandon.

That abandon that uke develops is a sincere attack every time. Each uke deserves the best attack uke can give each time and then the best attention given to following. Nage leads with that conviction -- uke follows with abandon each and every time. It could also be said that nage leads with abandon and uke follows with conviction.

See why I love aikido?




Saturday, November 19, 2016

Aikido attacks are like real attacks





Aikido attacks are like real attacks. How, you ask? We are working at simulating the realness of an actual attack. We give energy and follow. When an attack happens in life it is unexpected and spontaneous. The person being attacked feels uncomfortable and may deny and minimize. In aikido we can just be with what is happening. We can even celebrate the attack because uke is gifting us with energy.

We have been talking in class about attacking by directing our energy towards nage’s center. We don’t push or pull. We give a live attack with intention and energy and then we follow as nage leads. Uke lets go of any agenda and simulates the spontaneity of the energy a real attack would have. In class today uke grabbed nage’s wrist in different ways and nage then told uke what the attack felt like so uke could have an idea of what was happening right away from their nage.

We continued with this idea as uke grabbed nage’s wrist with intention and energy towards nage’s center. No pushing, no pulling or lifting or pushing down -- just good honest grabbing energy. Nage could do any throw by responding to ukes energy. This training makes uke have to slow down as they go find their nage and continue their attack. When uke attacks in this genuine way nage has energy to work with.

Sometimes people will poo poo this idea saying: this attack is not real enough. As if a hard grab that just holds on to nage’s wrist is realistic. Why would anybody just grab and hold?  If an attacker does do that one can still make the connection but our goal today was for uke to become more conscious of their part in this connection of uke and nage that makes up aikido.

One time I was grabbed by 2 hands on my one wrist. The person was trying to push past me to get out the door. I relaxed and let the energy of the person go where she was directing it and she went right down to floor. She looked up so surprised and snarled “Don’t you use aikido on me.” But I had and it worked. My center clicked right in and the anger I was feeling went right away.

Kim and I went to a black belt mixed art seminar and one of the instructors was talking about being grabbed as if it were a big deal. Kim and I just looked at each other and shrugged. We are used to it.
Because of my aikido training my body knew exactly what to do when I was grabbed. Training really matters. It keeps us safer and helps us look at what we can change. Again, I am the only thing I can change. Any other practice is futile. I must look at myself, accept what I see and change what I can. Then I can be the healthiest and safest me that is alive at any given moment.  





Monday, November 14, 2016

it really is not about fighting.


In aikido and I am speaking of the aikido I train in and am not comparing it to or denigrating any other style; it really is not about fighting.

What I mean by fighting is that it is not a sport or a contest. For me, aikido is self-defense. It is about what I have to do to protect myself. This to me means in daily life and self-defense situations.

Aikido is conciliatory and restorative.  My training helps me protect myself from others and from myself. It reduces life to the simplest form where I have to feel what is and do what I can. I can blame and I can whine…and I get to see how ineffective both of those responses are. I can come back to center and accept and do what I can. I can move or change myself. I cannot change another. Another may be moved when I move or change.

 My focus must be on moving me and not them. This truth is so good for me on the mat and out in the world. I am empowered when I keep the focus on me and what I can do instead of wandering off my path to meddle in other people’s business.

An example on the mat is having uke grab nage’s wrists and hold. If nage tries to move uke, uke will resist. If nage moves herself, extending energy and maintaining connection, uke will move with nage.  A way to do this is to roll the shoulders up as we retreat. Uke will follow nage almost in amazement because of the conduit for energy to travel through that nage creates.

In life people will follow the same way if you lead with intention and positive energy. One day 2 guys came into my office as I worked alone. They were both obviously very high. One sat down and started talking to himself as he rubbed his head. The other leaned over my desk and told me repeatedly and loudly what I was going to do.  I did not feel scared just very uncomfortable. I stood up, checked for my car keys which were hanging from a carabiner from my belt loop and then walked around my desk and invited them both to follow me. 

They did -- right out the door.  Then I invited them both to follow me over to the entry way gate. I said, “Stand here,” as I walked through the gate and slammed it shut, locking them in temporarily. I got in my car and drove away.  The one who was telling me what to do got very upset and I could see him gesturing as he yelled. I didn’t care. I was safe.

I led and they followed.  I created a conduit for their energy to flow through.  I did not force them. I moved what I could, me. And since I extended intention and energy I created a connection that they both responded to. This is one self-defense situation that ended with me being safe and the guys being bewildered but unhurt. My commitment to defending myself can be peaceful or violent depending on what the circumstances call for. But it is not a contest. It is self-defense. 

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Let's celebrate our self-defense choices





Class today small but good. We talked about expansion and contraction and the decision to self defend and how that manifests in our lives.

And then after class we talked about how we are the experts in our own self defense and that nobody but the person involved knows what the right thing to do is a in a tense situation. As we pay attention to the now we are able to see and hear and perceive all the signs, signals and conditions and make the best possible choice in that moment.

People may say afterwards "oh you shoulda done this or that" but they don't know because they weren't there. Let's celebrate our self-defense choices and continue to train with our friends ever expanding the circle of love and peace that our training affords.