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As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
This particular passage of the bible has always resonated with me, especially in my training of Aikido; and this is what makes Aikido so special.
When we attack each other, we attack so that our partner can become better. It's a selfless thing to do.
I'm not attacking you to prove I'm better. I'm not attacking you to "win" the fight. I'm not attacking you to show off.
And please make a special note to this one:
I'm not attacking you to make you look good, either.
I'm giving you a sincere attack, and really trying to hit you, so that you can learn and become better. If I've hit you, you've failed, and guess what, you get to try again. I'll do the exact same attack and give you another chance to learn the technique. If you don't get it after four tries, then it's my turn. And I really what to improve. I want my Aikido to really work, so please attack me, don't be afraid, I won't hurt you, I want to learn how to use your energy to defend myself and at the same time protect you from injury.
I remember once, an Aikido instructor, instructed me to "Take Ukemi" or I would get hurt. After 20 years of Aikido, I've realized, that although he said he was teaching Aikido, it was really a form of Jujutsu, where if you don't submit, you will get injured.
Did you know that O'Sensei said somewhere along the lines that you need to treat your attacker like a baby, and not hurt him...
"There is nothing more uncommon than common sense." - FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT
In Japan, I got to experience Aikido in a way that very, very few people around the world get to. I am so thankful for that, but the cost was very, very high.
I was a bit of a fanatic back then, I'd make the morning practice, and then usually the evening practice and I wasn't even an uchi deshi.
I enjoyed the mornings because Kisshomaru Ueshiba would usually teach. I met the most amazing people. It was funny because you'd enter the dojo, and the "Old Timers" with the most experience would always line up at the far left, then you had your hot shot, big ego guys on your far right, right next to the entrance. The guys on the left were always way too intense for me, and the guys on the right...well, I just wasn't there to compete. I'd tend to stay in the middle.
But then one night, one of my Aikido friends, he actually saved my life once (for real), introduced me to a man that always sat way, way on the left, and that changed my life.
I really didn't believe in Aikido until he threw me (you know Aikido would never work in an MMA match. ) After training with him for over 10 years (until we parted ways), again, I feel like I got to experience Aikido in a way very, very few people get to, and again the cost was very high.
I guess being independently wealthy has it's benefits...
Anyway, to get back to my point in all of this, never settle for less than the best no matter the cost, a
I went to Japan, wanting to become one of the greatest Aikidoists in the world. 17 years ago at 20 years old, a senior in College, with no idea where Honbu dojo was or where aikido is taught. I simply left to Japan with a dream.
It took me two months to get situated and find Honbu dojo and nearly 6 years to leave.
I went to Japan with a dream, a thought, I wanted to learn Aikido from the best so that I could be like the best.
It's been a bumpy road, with lots of interesting turns, lots of stop signs and lots of miraculous outcomes.
I must admit that all this time I thought I was trying to learn aikido but recently discovered that it wasn't aikido that I was learning.