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I was sitting in class when I started thinking about the way that someone's personality comes out through their training - how a twist of the body, a tilt of the shoulders can tell you so much about how they approach the challange and the pressure, how they adapt and how they deal with it all. We recognise people through anything, to the point where I'm sure that if all the lights were out we could still identify the silhouettes dancing around us.
So that brings me to deeper waters.
I remember watching the film 'Jarhead', especially the part where all the men have their heads shaven, then stand in a crowd and begin to piece themselves back together. So similar, all ideas about how to present yourself, or perceive others, seems to just fly out the window.
Like it is in the dojo. Sitting there in a line, dressed all in white. No colours. No shapes, no textures. Just the black and white - mixing briefly in flight but always settling back again. But the thing is, while the uniformity blinds you (in a way), it also lets us paint our personality onto our appearance honestly. One doesn't begin to see what another wants them to see. The differences we see are instead borne from those tiny moments of frustration and joy, the journey, the path we explore on our aikido journey. What we begin to see in people, and between people, is an honest core of them. The one that gets drowned out by power games and mind games and identity games that thrive outside the doors of the dojo.
Here, at least, on the mat, we can be honest. And in this honesty we can expose the truest and most vulnerable parts of ourselves, because eventually people can see the depth to a life for themselves. And that, after all, is all that people can see once they start to really see, painted as clear as anything on the white and black canvas of the training student.