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After years of wanting to learn a martial art and with a very little understanding of Aikido, I finally started last month.
This blog is for me to look back and see how my journey began and to record my thoughts.
It's always daunting to begin to record your thoughts, so I'll start nice and easy with a little about me and how I came to be posting here.
I'm 35 and until this year have always been somewhat overweight. For years I had wanted to have knowledge of a martial art without ever really knowing why. Probably an early viewing of The Karate Kid is to blame. It's also probably Mr Miyagi's fault that I have an appreciation of the japanese arts. Gardens, bonsai, the concepts of honour and etiquette all appeal to me.
For just over two years I was a restorer of antique japanese art, particularly metalwork. I was always amazed by the simple beauty of the work, the concealed layers of complexity in the seamingly easy. Haiku and the tsuba I restored show this concept well. Forcing the unlimited artistic talent to create something so confined and controlled, then breaking the limitations with skill and imagination. Some work was simply breathtaking.
This year I realised that many of my insecurities and the cause of my unhappiness was rooted in my weight. I was far too concerned with what other people thought of me because I didn't believe in myself. I realised I had to come to terms with me and to take control of my life. I watched what I ate, went to the gym and set myself some goals. One of which was to begin a martial art.
Three months later and 28lbs lighter I tried my first Kung Fu lesson. My son has been studying for 3 years (we wanted to assist his self-confidence, he was born with a cleft lip and palate) and doing something together was a huge appeal. At the same time I made enquiries to my local aikido dojo.
My kung fu lesson was an experience I am happy to have had, it gave me something to compare my aikido lesson with. I was elated to have been to kung fu, something I could never have achieved 4 months ago, but I was unimpressed by the dour faces and machismo. When I visited what was to become my dojo, the atmosphere couldn't have been more different. People were smiling, I was made to feel welcome (unlike kung fu where I was left to follow the warm up with no instruction as to whether I should or not). Sensei rarely spoke more loudly than a speaking voice (although he had a slight cold!) and the atmosphere was one of calm and, dare I say, harmony.
Kneeling was quite painful on the ankles, and knowing when to bow was a new challenge. The ki exercises were interesting, the techniques exciting and I left the dojo knowing in my heart which art had appealed to me.
I'll post up my thoughts from the subsequent weeks next, but I'll give this post time to digest.