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So essentially I began training in Aikido from a desire to learn physical self-defense maneuvers (osae waza, etc.) and to learn something about inner peace. I knew only what many of us read everywhere about Aikido being a "way of peace;" a "way of harmonizing with hostile forces." Word! I'm down with that! I spent my whole life a pacifist among fighters, so I had a pre-existing and deep appreciation for the power a warrior has in creating peace. The language was right up my alley. I studied very hard for about 2 and a half years, and after 10 years of sporadic interaction on the mat, I'd estimate I have about 1 year's worth of solid training, conditioning aside.
Now, I practice something every day, but there is no substitute for the kind of dedication which puts people on the mat with each other. One of the first things I came to love about Aikido was that I got to train with everyone. Each fellow student has a unique contribution to the development of one another, and while that sounds like a lovely bit of poetry, I think it has a profound bit of logic to it as well. The biggest obstacle to learning is not seeing the lesson and when we begin to see everyone as a potential lesson (i.e. teacher role), we begin to allow for much greater potential in learning. That's the danger of ego: presumption...or so I presume.
The community facet of Aikido has come to represent the essence of the whole for me. We humans are as comfortable as we generally are because we have a societ
My first experiences with any form of martial arts came in my childhood. For one thing I was the smallest kid of my grade throughout elementary school, and for another, the people I grew up with always seemed interested in being tough. I found that my friends, who were about a foot taller and twice my weight in some cases, could always beat me in contests of strength. The best I could do against them was to outsmart them or somehow stall out thier efforts to overpower me. Given that WWF and Hulkamania were in full effect, I took ukemi for many a pile-driver, body slam and even the occasional suplex. I remember specific moments where I was forced to learn how to not get hurt...and indeed I was lucky I didn't. I landed on many pine cones and exposed roots and rocks.
As I said, the culture of my area was heavily based on toughness. The golden era of Gangsta Rap began with the popularity of NWA, Eazy E, etc. so you can see why many of my generation might have gravitated toward thuggish behavior. I've known enough criminals to have a relatively competent understanding of various forms of crime and from what I can tell assault is a highly unreported crime that should be taken seriously.
So, my lessons in how to engage people bigger than me, coupled with my lessons from a violent componant of our society instilled in me a sense of need for self-defense as well as a basic direction to move in. In high school I decided I would learn a martial art so I began reading about various