Monday, November 21, 2011


The oak leaf has fallen. The wind is very cool,with a promise winter. My back is warmed by the still balmy afternoon Autumn sun.
                                                                                    A connection,
 a blending,
a movement,
 power together,
connection made deeper by attention to detail,
tenkan,
 irimi,
soft swooping arms,
curled wrist,
 open posture,
dramatic movement or not,
 there again and again,
 ego subjugated by the desire to connect and learn.

Friday, November 11, 2011

circular path


My path through my yard and woods is circular. I walk it every day. Every day, nature looks different even though it is the same path.
Today the path is covered with large brown oak leaves. The poison ivy is mostly gone or turned to red. There is much more brown and gray than this summer when many shades of green were the dominant colors. Soon the path will be covered in white. Yet it is the same path through the same woods and yard during all these changes and cycles. Each day a new me walks on a new path even though it is the same me and the same path.
Testing for one point is an important part of ki development for both tester and the person being tested. By pushing with an appropriate amount of pressure the tester provides the person being tested with the opportunity to find their center and then, to learn to trust their center.
As a beginning reference we teach the center is 2 inches below the belly button. I could not feel my inner center at first so I had to practice feeling my center was where my hand rested on my skin 2 inches below my belly button.
As I continued to do ki exercises and aikido technique I learned what my inner center felt like. When I was a second kyu I decided to trust that feeling and my real inner strength started to develop.
The repeated falling, rolling and contact of aikido techniques with a partner presented me with opportunities to experiment and learn what felt most dependable for me. I progressed though times of power bursts and complacency. Both periods affording unique opportunities for me to meet myself and work though ego challenges.
The process of having one point and developing strong ki is a remarkable journey. No one can hand you the secret. Correct feeling can be developed by anyone through devoted training. Part of becoming an integrated martial artist is developing a sense of self. We don’t need experts to explain secrets to us anymore than we need priests to define the word of god to us. The secret is there is no secret.
Ki development provides one way to develop inner strength though the practice of ki exercises aikido technique and principles of non violence. Power over is discouraged as we train together so we all become stronger. A sense of compassionate understanding and appreciation of differences are all by products of non-competitive training, along with the desire to continue to learn and teach. There are no short cuts on this circular path. It is an enduring practice.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Big oak leaf


On my walk today I came across a huge oak leaf…it was mostly green with red edges. This leaf would have been huge on a big tree. However, this really big oak leaf was clinging to a single twig that was growing from a dead wood pile. The twig is about a foot and a half high and literally a twig. I can’t give you a dimension because I can’t talk that small.

So the huge leaf is hanging there and I started thinking about what would happen to this leaf when it let go. It probably would fall directly under where it hung and eventually turn into soil. I went out this afternoon to take some pictures of the leaf for my blog and it was still hanging there. I wonder if leaves let go easily or do they have to have their grips pried off like I do sometimes.

I notice when I let go of things and don’t try to fix me or others, my life is just fine. When I get into fix mode is when I get into problems. I neglect my own work, play and study and get busy with others. I notice that others don’t love to be fixed. They don’t love to be fixed even when I am undercover and they don’t know I am fixing them. They can still feel the energy they may just not know where it is coming from. I can tell, though. When I am sticking my hand, head or heart into somewhere where it’s not supposed to be it hurts. I feel really uncomfortable and often my stomach is in knots.

Aikido practice helps me notice when I shifted out of myself and onto fixing someone else. There is a difference between fixing and really helping. Fixing feels bad because my motives are bad. I have the, “I know better” state of mind. Helping feels okay because I am not attached to the outcome. I can help and have no hands on the results.

When I am nage I can practice patient and tolerance, and then guide my uke. If I am feeling impatience or lack of tolerance, I notice in my body. My hands will feel grabby or I will feel frustrated with how uke is moving. I know when I am trying to muscle my uke around by my inner reaction. If I am complaining about my uke in my head I know I am doing something ineffective.

Uke is like the big green, red tinged oak leaf hanging on her tiny branch until it is time to let go. When that time comes I guide her gently through the motions of the throw to a positive resolution of a gentle but powerful fall.