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I used to think that all men were saviors. Then I thought all men were abusers.
When I was a little girl I thought men kept us safe and protected us from the world. After I started training I thought all men hurt women and there was no hope.
Now I know the truth is complicated. Good men exist. Good men do bad things sometimes. Bad men do bad things and maybe good things sometimes.
No man is coming to save me. That is my job. I can learn from all situations. Every single moment can teach me more about survival and thriving.
I spent many years looking for my knight is shining armor. Trust me…he is not sitting on a bar stool.
I starting training in Aikido and found a good man: but better than that I found a good woman who no longer was willing to be saved or be abused.
In aikido I found my own power. It started subtly as I trained with men who were rough around the edges but had good hearts. Men who encouraged me to roll and to wear my white gi pants to fit in; that didn't care if I looked pretty or got sweaty.
There were men in that dojo that were self-absorbed and sexist …just like there is all over the world. There were men who did not want to be taught by a woman and who told me that women can't get strong enough to protect themselves.
I just kept training and teaching. People that did not like our way at our dojo went away. We find that good people stay. We found that men are good and strong and respectful just as women are good and strong and r
Uke is a positive role. It is not just waiting to be nage. Aikido is not about overpowering each other but learning, together, how to resolve unrest, conflict and disorder.
Uke provides nage with the opportunity to feel another person's energy, physicality and essence. Nage provides uke with the opportunity to let go in a controlled environment, to not have to be in total control and to give a gift of energy.
Aikido happens when uke and nage work together to resolve the conflict or attack of the moment. Being as in the now as one can be makes the experience so fun and educational.
By being the best uke or nage we can be in each moment we provide earnestness.
Earnestness is defined as: sincere and intense conviction. It is such a sacred gift to give to each other. In this world where really being seen and heard by others is rare and fleeting we come together in the dojo to see and feel each other deeply as we strive to become safer and more comfortable in the world.
Everyone can't be a wildly athletic uke or a smooth polished nage. Yet we can start right where we are and do our best. That is all earnestness requires of us. We just be who we on any given day.
Some days I feel totally healthy and happy. Other days I feel grumpy and sore. I have practiced when I was limping because of an injured knee from carrying too much weight for my frame. I got to practice from a revolving armless office chair that was actually fun when I got over my ego. I had
Today in class I got triggered…I started to feel like I was going to throw up. I felt teary and shaky inside. We were doing an irimi nage and Ron asked us get inside nearer to uke that I like to. I like to take their balance earlier to avoid the intimacy that comes from a closer in throw.
When I was 24 a really big guy, about 6'6" who must have weighed at least 350 pounds knelt on my shoulders and shoved his penis in my mouth and down my throat. I thought of him in class while the panic attack was starting. I felt my body disappear and the trapped feeling come back
In the past I have stayed on the mat when these feelings come up but today was different. I did not try to deny the feelings. I noticed them. I gently observed to myself, "Oh, you feel nauseous…are you going to cry?"
Next, I felt my feet on the blue mat. I noticed the other people in the dojo…There was Jocelyn. There was Anne. I see Ron.
I breathed deliberately in through my nose and out through my mouth several times. I kept moving. I attacked when it was my turn to be uke. I consciously asked questions through the panic that was hovering about a correction I received as nage. I felt my hakama with my hands; I felt the inside of my mouth with my tongue. And I could not feel my center.
Near the end of class Ron had us a do a centering exercise. I told him I could not find my center. He reminded of an exercise we do to explain centering to someone who has never met her center.
He told me to
When the judgments pop up on the mat what can we do about them?
You know what I mean, sometimes in my head I hear "you (meaning me) suck", or "uke (meaning you) should relax more or follow better" and so on….
None of the above is conducive to blending or correct feeling. So what I do is notice the thought, feel the feeling and keep training. My experience is that the process of noticing, feeling and continued training works very effectively. I am not wasting any time or energy denying or minimizing my negative self-talk. I am not building a case against uke by focusing on what I think is wrong with them.
Usually for me, those kind of thoughts are proceeded or followed by an uncomfortable feeling.
So I breathe in deeply, I exhale fully and wait my turn, then I do the next thing I am supposed to be doing, whether it is bokken movement, attacking my nage of throwing my uke. I pay very close attention to what I am supposed to be doing and before I know it my mind is clear again and my spirit flies free.
I can't control what my mind thinks initially.
I can respond in a powerful way by being present with my thoughts and feelings, letting them pass and focusing on the task at hand.
We are running a beginner's class and I am buoyed by the response. We had 3 new people on the mat on Thursday night. Other times in recent years we have had no response to the offer of a beginner's class.
When we first started offering basics classes about 25 years ago the response was great….often 12 to 14 people would attend. It seems to me that the trend now had been for more confrontational arts. I think MMA has had an influence on people who are interested in martial arts.
Maybe now the pendulum is swinging back to people being interested in martial arts for other reasons than to beat people up or to be stronger than everyone else. I sure hope so. We are ready. Let the influx continue.
Ukes will rest or wander if not led. Nage will lead where uke's energy is headed.
Following and leading become one as the energy and intention becomes the focus. What seems to be matters not and what is prevails.
Why would uke lean....why not if they have a place to rest? Move the resting place and uke will lose balance.
Letting, not forcing with open palms and soft finger tips...no grabbing, pushing or pulling only guiding.
When uke comes around to see where nage went she will move in the energy trough if it is made available. First the void must be defined by nage's dramatic, dynamic movement. Uke is encouraged to follow by enthusiastic soft letting.
When nage moves with intention and invitation uke can't help but follow. It is like offering roast beef to a Dalmatian...uke is willing and eagerly follows on the sweep of defined energy in the described channel.
Aikido requires faith. Nage must believe in his ability as he defines the channel with this vibrant movement, strewing energy as he leads the way. Then nage follows uke as nage continues to lead. Nage must lead with no thought as to if uke will follow, and uke must trust that nage will lead.
It sounds crazy until you have felt it. To feel aikido one must take a leap of faith and move as nage with conviction and move as uke with abandon.
That abandon that uke develops is a sincere attack every time. Each uke deserves the best attack uke can give each time and then the best attention given to
Class on Thursday night was small, just 4 of us…all black belts. When it was my turn to teach something I saw during Ron's part of class made me think about extemporaneous movement which is how we teach together, building off an idea that the first person offers. We don't plan ahead. We just go with who shows up and with whatever state of health each person is in.
During freestyle I never think of what technique I am going to do. I know it's not like that for everyone but it is how I stay open and move with what is. I think it is the purist form of aikido…letting uke show you what way they want to go and guide them using their own energy.
So starting with a 2 hands on 2 hands grab I asked nage to do anything but not to decide on something -- just to do what seemed the easiest thing at the moment. After a few times through we all got more comfortable….then I asked us all to kote geishe from a standing 2 hands on 2 hands grab. I asked nage to not decide when to throw but to throw when the opportunity presented itself. It sounds really easy and yet from standing it was difficult. Nages did some strange things like: forgetting to do tenkan and backing up with small steps or grabbing with the hands instead of letting the hands lead. We kept at it and it got more comfortable but still was challenging.
Then Ron asked if we could do another round with uke grabbing nage the same way but with uke and nage both in motion. What a difference that made for all of us. The motion k
Aikido attacks are like real attacks. How, you ask? We are working at simulating the realness of an actual attack. We give energy and follow. When an attack happens in life it is unexpected and spontaneous. The person being attacked feels uncomfortable and may deny and minimize. In aikido we can just be with what is happening. We can even celebrate the attack because uke is gifting us with energy.
We have been talking in class about attacking by directing our energy towards nage's center. We don't push or pull. We give a live attack with intention and energy and then we follow as nage leads. Uke lets go of any agenda and simulates the spontaneity of the energy a real attack would have. In class today uke grabbed nage's wrist in different ways and nage then told uke what the attack felt like so uke could have an idea of what was happening right away from their nage.
We continued with this idea as uke grabbed nage's wrist with intention and energy towards nage's center. No pushing, no pulling or lifting or pushing down -- just good honest grabbing energy. Nage could do any throw by responding to ukes energy. This training makes uke have to slow down as they go find their nage and continue their attack. When uke attacks in this genuine way nage has energy to work with.
Sometimes people will poo poo this idea saying: this attack is not real enough. As if a hard grab that just holds on to nage's wrist is realistic. Why would anybody just grab and hold? If an attacker d
In aikido and I am speaking of the aikido I train in and am not comparing it to or denigrating any other style; it really is not about fighting.
What I mean by fighting is that it is not a sport or a contest. For me, aikido is self-defense. It is about what I have to do to protect myself. This to me means in daily life and self-defense situations.
Aikido is conciliatory and restorative. My training helps me protect myself from others and from myself. It reduces life to the simplest form where I have to feel what is and do what I can. I can blame and I can whine…and I get to see how ineffective both of those responses are. I can come back to center and accept and do what I can. I can move or change myself. I cannot change another. Another may be moved when I move or change.
My focus must be on moving me and not them. This truth is so good for me on the mat and out in the world. I am empowered when I keep the focus on me and what I can do instead of wandering off my path to meddle in other people's business.
An example on the mat is having uke grab nage's wrists and hold. If nage tries to move uke, uke will resist. If nage moves herself, extending energy and maintaining connection, uke will move with nage. A way to do this is to roll the shoulders up as we retreat. Uke will follow nage almost in amazement because of the conduit for energy to travel through that nage creates.
In life people will follow the same way if you lead with intention and positive ener
Class today -- small but good. We talked about expansion and contraction and the decision to self defend and how that manifests in our lives.
And then after class we talked about how we are the experts in our own self defense and that nobody but the person involved knows what the right thing to do is a in a tense situation. As we pay attention to the now we are able to see and hear and perceive all the signs, signals and conditions and make the best possible choice in that moment.
People may say afterwards "oh you shoulda done this or that" but they don't know because they weren't there. Let's celebrate our self-defense choices and continue to train with our friends ever expanding the circle of love and peace that our training affords.