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I was raised catholic, kid number 5 out of 6 kids.. 4 of whom were brothers and all of whom picked on each other and me. Being the baby for 7 years, I learned that telling Mom was the best and easiest way to get what I wanted. Whether it was to be NOT picked on or to be allowed to participate in what my siblings were doing, telling Mom always did the trick.
Later in life, I began studying other religions and philosphies. In high school debate, I get into current events topics, whether they were right or wrong, what WAS right and wrong and deciding for myself what to believe.
Right and Wrong always seemed to be common sense to me. By the time I was 16 or so, I had it all figured out and I was POSITIVE that the world was wrong and everyone should listen to me. Hard part was selling it, which I was rarely good at. In debate, I would lose. But in Impromptu Speaking... I always won! So why didn't I pursue that? Because I wanted to debate and tell others... they were wrong.
Hmm... just had a thought: I couldn't tell anyone what was right because I wasted too much time telling THEM how THEY were WRONG! Now there is an interesting thought. This is one of those, "Ponder this on the Tree of Woe" thoughts for all you Conan fans out there.
Anyways, life moved on. I'm gonna skip a big part and never go into it as I did spend about 5 years researching a very controversial religion that people will insult me for. Suffice to say, I learned a great deal and brought it back with me to Midland where I now reflect on it and use it despite no one else wanting to know what it really is.
AND... it taught me even more about Right and Wrong. So much so that when I saw O'Sensei and his teachings and how he was able to manifest his philosphy into a physical action??? Holy cow!
So I started aikido in April 2002 under Sensei Les Kelso and Sensei John Riggs. Two powerful men with two very different martial styles. Sensei Kelso has a very outstanding practical application of aikido and how to use it on the street, in the home, a bar, whatever. Someone tries this, you do that. And it works. Sensei Riggs on the other hand is very Hombu oriented. Doshu does this... and You do this. No, not that... this!
I have a great deal of respect for both, but being raised catholic, tradition is a very romantic idea to me that is very grounded and set within me. Classes consisted of myself, John Couch (2nd kyu at the time), Mike Cervantes (Shodan at the time) and Sensei Riggs (Sandan at the time)
Needless to say, I was very intimidated. I was a freakin' white belt for crying out loud! How the heck was I supposed to remember ANY of this, much less actually do it??? Ya gotta be kidding me. It would be weeks, if not months before I ever felt comfortable enough to have a conversation with any of them off the mat. Hell, I would come in on Saturdays just to practice rolling for an hour. Every Saturday! For 3 MONTHS I did this! Just so I would feel like I wasn't wasting everyone's time when I showed up for class.
Boy was I ackward. You gotta understand, I am: 6' 2", at the time 285, wear a size 15 boat of a shoe, flat feet, terrible knees and the grace of a pregnant yak! (Name that movie?)